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Copyright, 1914, by Richard G. Badger 

*. .1 ;^j , All Rights Reserved 

1. J 

I , 


In order to understand the social and dynamic 
significance of modern dramatic art it is necessary, 
I believe, to ascertain the difference between the 
functions of art for art's sake and art as the mir- 
ror of life. 

Art for art's sake presupposes an attitude of 
aloofness on the part of the artist toward the com- 
plex struggle of life : he must rise above the ebb 
and tide of life. He is to be merely an artistic 
conjurer of beautiful forms, a creator of pure 

That is not the attitude of modem art, which is 
preeminently the reflex, the mirror of life. The 
artist being a part of life cannot detach himself 
from the events and occurrences that pass pan- 
orama-like before his eyes, impressing themselves 
upon his emotional and intellectual vision. 

The modern artist is, in the words of August 
Strindberg, " a lay preacher popularizing the press- 
ing questions of his time." Not necessarily be- 
cause his aim is to proselyte, but because he can 
best express himself by being true to life. 

Millet, Meunier, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Em- 
erson, Walt Whitman, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Strindberg, 


4 Foreword 

Hauptmann and a host of others mirror in their 
work as much of the spiritual and social revolt as is 
expressed by the most fiery speech of the propa- 
gandist. And more important still, they compel 
far greater attention. Their creative genius, im- 
bued with the spirit of sincerity and truth, strikes 
root where the ordinary word often falls on barren 

The reason that many radicals as well as conser- 
vatives fail to grasp the powerful message of art is 
perhaps not far to seek. The average radical is 
as hidebound by mere terms as the man devoid of 
all ideas. " Bloated plutocrats," " economic de- 
terminism," " class consciousness," and similar ex- 
pressions sum up for him the symbols of revolt. 
But since art speaks a language of its own, a lan- 
guage embracing the entire gamut of human emo- 
tions, it often sounds meaningless to those whose 
hearing has been dulled by the din of stereotyped 

On the other hand, the conservative sees danger 
only in the advocacy of the Red Flag. He has too 
long been fed on the historic legend that it is only 
the " rabble " which makes revolutions, and not 
those who wield the brush or pen. It is therefore 
legitimate to applaud the artist and hound the rab- 
ble. Both radical and conservative have to learn 
that any mode of creative work, which with true 
perception portrays social wrongs earnestly and 

Foreword 5 

boldly, may be a greater menace to our social 
fabric and a more powerful inspiration than the 
wildest harangue of the soapbox orator. 

Unfortunately, we in America have so far 
looked upon the theater as a place of amusement 
only, exclusive of ideas and inspiration. Because 
the modern drama of Europe has till recently been 
inaccessible in printed form to the average theater- 
goer in this country, he had to content himself with 
the interpretation, or rather misinterpretation, of 
our dramatic critics. As a result the social signif- 
icance of the Modern Drama has well nigh been 
lost to the general public. 

As to the native drama, America has so far pro- 
duced very little worthy to be considered in a social 
light. Lacking the cultural and evolutionary tra- 
dition of the Old World, America has necessarily 
first to prepare the soil out of which sprouts 
creative genius. 

The hundred and one springs of local and sec- 
tional life must have time to furrow their common 
channel into the seething sea of life at large, and 
social questions and problems make themselves 
felt, if not crystallized, before the throbbing pulse 
of the big national heart can find its reflex in a 
great literature — and specifically in the drama — 
of a social character. This evolution has been go- 
ing on in this country for a considerable time, 
shaping the wide-spread unrest that is now begin- 

6 Foreword 

ning to assume more or less definite social form 
and expression. 

Therefore, America could not so far produce its 
own social drama. But in proportion as the crys- 
tallization progresses, and sectional and national 
questions become clarified as fundamentally social 
problems, the drama develops. Indeed, very com- 
mendable beginnings in this direction have been 
made within recent years, among them " The 
Easiest Way," by Eugene Walter, " Keeping Up 
Appearances," and other plays by Butler Daven- 
port, ** Nowadays " and two others volumes of 
one-act plays, by George Middleton, — attempts 
that hold out an encouraging promise for the fu- 

The Modern Drama, as all modern literature, 
mirrors the complex struggle of life, — the strug- 
gle which, whatever its individual or topical expres- 
sion, ever has its roots in the depth of human na- 
ture and social environment, and hence is, to that 
extent, universal. Such literature, such drama, is 
at once the reflex and the inspiration of mankind in 
its eternal seeking for things higher and better. 
Perhaps those who learn the great truths of the so- 
cial travail in the school of life, do not need the 
message of the drama. But there is another class 
whose number is legion, for whom that message is 

Foreword 7 

indispensable. In countries where political oppres- 
sion affects all classes, the best intellectual element 
have made common cause with the people, have 
become their teachers, comrades, and spokesmen. 
But in America political -pressure has so far affected 
only the " common " people. It is they who are 
thrown into prison; they who are persecuted and 
mobbed, tarred and deported. Therefore another 
medium is needed to arouse the intellectuals of this 
country, to make them realize their relation to the 
people, to the social unrest permeating the atmos- 

The medium which has the power to do that is 
the Modern Drama, because it mirrors every phase 
of life and embraces every strata of society, — the 
Modern Drama, showing each and all caught in 
the throes of the tremendous changes going on, and 
forced either to become part of the process or be 
left behind. 

Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann, Tolstoy, Shaw, 
Galsworthy and the other dramatists contained in 
this volume represent the social iconoclasts of our 
time. They know that society has gone beyond 
the stage of patching up, and that man must throw 
off the dead weight of the past, with all its ghosts 
and spooks, if he is to go foot free to meet the 

This is the social significance which differentiates 



modern dramatic art from art for art's sake. It 
is the dynamite which undermines superstition, 
shakes the social pillars, and prepares men and 
women for the reconstruction. 



Foreword 3 

The Scandinavian Drama 

Henrik Ibsen ii 

The Pillars of Society 13 

A DolFs House 18 

Ghosts 25 

An Enemy of Society 34 

August Strindberg 43 

The Father 45 

Countess Julie 51 

Comrades 61 

The German Drama 

Hermann Sudermann 69 

Magda 71 

The Fires of St. John ...... 80 

Gerhart Hauptmann 87 

Lonely Lives 87 

The Weavers 98 

The Sunken Bell 108 

Frank Wedekind 118 

The Awakening of Spring 118 

The French Drama 

Maurice Maeterlinck 129 

Monna Vanna 129 

Edmond Rostand 138 

Chantecler 138 

Table of Contents 


Brieux 147 

Damaged Goods 147 

Maternity 161 

The English Drama 

George Bernard Shaw 175 

Mrs. Warren's Profession 176 

Major Barbara 186 

John Galsworthy 196 

Strife 197 

Justice 208 

The Pigeon 215 

Stanley Houghton 226 

Hindle Wakes 226 

Git ha Sower by 235 

Rutherford and Son 235 

The Irish Drama 

William Butler Yeats 250 

Where There Is Nothing 252 

Lenox Robinson 261 

Harvest 261 

T. G. Murray 267 

Maurice Harte 267 

The Russian Drama 

Leo Tolstoy 275 

The Power of Darkness 276 

Anton Tchekhof 283 

The Seagull 284 

The Cherry Orchard 290 

Maxim Gorki 294 

A Night's Lodging 294 

Leonid Andreyev 302 

King-Hunger 302 




IN a letter to George Brandes, shortly after 
the Paris Commune, Henrik Ibsen wrote 
concerning the State and political liberty: 
** .The State is the curse of the individ- 
ual. How has the national strength of Prussia 
been purchased? By the sinking of the individual 
in a political and geographical formula. . . . The 
State must go I That will be a revolution which 
will find me on its side. Undermine the idea of 
the State, set up in its place spontaneous action, 
and the idea that spiritual relationship is the only 
thing that makes for unity, and you will start the 
elements of a liberty which will be something 
worth possessing." 

The State was not the only bete noire of Henrik 
Ibsen. Every other institution which, like the 
State, rests upon a lie, was an iniquity to him. 
Uncompromising demolisher of all false idols and 
dynamiter of all social shams and hypocrisy, Ibsen 


12 Henrik Ibsen 

consistently strove to uproot every stone of our 
social structure. Above all did he thunder his 
fiery indictment against the four cardinal sins of 
modern society: the Lie inherent in our social 
arrangements; Sacrifice and Duty, the twin curses 
that fetter the spirit of man; the narrow-minded- 
ness and pettiness of Provincialism, that stifles all 
growth ; and the Lack of Joy and Purpose in Work 
which turns life into a vale of misery and tears. 

So strongly did Ibsen feel on these matters, that 
in none of his works did he lose sight of them. 
Indeed, they recur again and again, like a Lett- 
motif in music, in everything he wrote. These 
issues form the keynote to the revolutionary sig- 
nificance of his dramatic works, as well as to the 
psychology of Henrik Ibsen himself. 

It is, therefore, not a little surprising that most 
of the interpreters and admirers of Ibsen so en- 
thusiastically accept his art, and yet remain utterly 
indifferent to, not to say ignorant of, the message 
contained in it. That is mainly because they are, 
in the words of Mrs. Alving, ** so pitifully afraid 
of the light." Hence they go about seeking mys- 
teries and hunting symbols, and completely losing 
sight of the meaning that is as clear as daylight 
in all of the works of Ibsen, and mainly in the 
group of his social plays, " The Pillars of So- 
ciety," '* A Doll's House," ** Ghosts," and " An 
Enemy of the People." 

The Pillars of Society 13 


The disintegrating effect of the Social Lie, of 
Duty, as an imposition and outrage, and of the 
spirit of Provincialism, as a stifling factor, are 
brought out with dynamic force in " The Pillars 
of Society.** 

Consul Bernick, driven by the conception of his 
duty toward the House of Bernick, begins his 
career with a terrible lie. He sells his love for 
Lona Hessel in return for the large dowry of her 
step-sister Betty, whom he does not love. To for- 
get his treachery, he enters into a clandestine re- 
lationship with an actress of the town. When sur- 
prised in her room by the drunken husband, young 
Bernick jumps out of the window, and then gra- 
ciously accepts the offer of his bosom friend, 
Johan, to let him take the blame. 

Johan, together with his faithful sister Lona, 
leaves for America. In return for his devotion, 
young Bernick helps to rob his friend of his good 
name, by acquiescing in the rumors circulating in 
the town that Johan had broken into the safe of 
the Bernicks and stolen a large sum of money. 

In the opening scene of " The Pillars of So- 
ciety," we find Consul Bernick at the height of his 
career. The richest, most powerful and respected 
citizen of the community, he is held up as the 

14 Henrik Ibsen 

model of an ideal husband and devoted father. 
In short, a worthy pillar of society. 

The best ladies of the town come together in 
the home of the Bernicks. They represent the 
society for the " Lapsed and Lost," and they 
gather to do a little charitable sewing and a lot 
of charitable gossip. It is through them we leai*n 
that Dina Dorf, the ward of Bernick, is the issue 
of the supposed escapade of Johan and the actress. 

With them, giving unctuous spiritual advice and 
representing the purity and morality of the com- 
munity, is Rector Rorlund, hidebound, self-right- 
eous, and narrow-minded. 

Into this deadening atmosphere of mental and 
social provincialism comes Lona Hessel, refreshing 
and invigorating as the wind of the plains. She 
has returned to her native town together with 

The moment she enters the house of Bernick, 
the whole structure begins to totter. For in 
Loners own words, " Fie, fie — this moral linen 
here smells so tainted — just like a shroud. I am 
accustomed to the air of the prairies now, I can 
tell you. . . . Wait a little, wait a little — we'll 
soon rise from the sepulcher. We must have 
broad daylight here when my boy comes." 

Broad daylight is indeed needed in the com- 
munity of Consul Bernick, and above all in the 
life of the Consul himself. 

\The Pillars of Society 15 

It seems to be the psychology of a He that it 
can never stand alone. Consul Bernick Is com- 
pelled to weave a network of lies to sustain his 
foundation. In the disguise of a good husband, 
he upbraids, nags, and tortures his wife on the 
slightest provocation* In the mask of a devoted 
father, he tyrannizes and bullies his only child as 
only a despot used to being obeyed can do. Un- 
der the cloak of a benevolent citizen he buys up 
public land for his own profit. Posing as a true 
Christian, he even goes so far as to jeopardize 
human life. Because of business considerations 
he sends The Indian Girl, an unse a worthy, rotten 
vessel, on a voyage, although he is assured 
by one of his most capable and faithful workers 
that the ship cannot make the journey, that it is 
sure to go down. But Consul Bernick is a pillar 
of society; he needs the respect and good will of 
his fellow citizens. He must go from precipice 
to precipice, to keep up appearances. 

Lona alone sees the abyss facing him, and tells 
him : " What does it matter whether such a so- 
ciety is supported or not? What is it that passes 
current here? Lies and shams — nothing else. 
Here are you, the first man in the town, living in 
wealth and pride, in power and honor, you, who 
have set the brand of crime upon an innocent 
man." She might have added, many innocent 

1 6 Henrik Ibsen 

men, for Johan was not the only one at whose 
expense Karsten Berntck built up his career. 

The end is inevitable. In the words of Lona: 
" All this eminence, and you yourself along with 
it, stand on a trembling quicksand; a moment may 
come, a word may be spoken, and, if you do not 
save yourself in time, you and your whole 
grandeur go to the bottom." 

But for Lona, or, rather, what she symbolizes, 
Berntck — even as The Indian Girl — would go 
to the bottom. 

In the last act, the whole town is preparing to 
give the great philanthropist and benefactor, the 
eminent pillar of society, an ovation. There are 
fireworks, music, gifts and speeches in honor of 
Consul Bernick, At that very moment, the only 
child of the Consul is hiding in The Indian Girl to 
escape the tyranny of his home. Johan, too, is 
supposed to sail on the same ship, and with him, 
Dina, who has learned the whole truth and is eager 
to escape from her prison, to go to a free atmos- 
phere, to become independent, and then to unite 
with Johan in love and freedom. As Dina says: 
** Yes, I will be your wife. But first I will work, 
and become something for myself, just as you are. 
I will give myself, I will not be taken." 

Consul Bernick, too, is beginning to realize 
himself. The strain of events and the final shock 
that he had exposed his own child to such peril, 

The Pillars of Society 17 

act like a stroke of lightning on the Consul. It 
makes him see that a house built on lies, shams, 
and crime must eventually sink by its own weight. 
Surrounded by those who truly love and therefore 
understand him, Consul Bernick, no longer the 
pillar of society, but the man becomes conscious 
of his better self. 

" Where have I been?" he exclaims. "You 
will be horrified when you know. Now, I feel 
as if I had just recovered my senses after being 
poisoned. But I feel — I feel that I can be 
young and strong again. Oh, come nearer — 
closer around me. Come, Betty! Come, Olaf 1 
Come, Martha ! Oh, Martha, it seems as though 
I had never seen you in all these years. And we 
— we have a long, earnest day of work before 
us; I most of all. But let it come; gather close 
around me, you true and faithful women. I have 
learned this, in these days: it is you women who 
are the Pillars of Society." 

Lona: " Then you have learned a poor wis- 
dom, brother-in-law. No, no; the spirit of Truth 
and of Freedom — these are the Pillars of Soci- 

The spirit of truth and freedom is the socio- 
revolutionary significance of " The Pillars of Soci- 
ety." Those, who, like Consul Bernick, fail to 
realize this all-important fact, go on patching up 
The Indian Girl, which is Ibsen's symbol for our 

1 8 Henrik Ibsen 

society. But they, too, must learn that society is 
rotten to the core ; that patching up or reforming 
one sore spot merely drives the social poison 
deeper into the system, and that all must go to the 
bottom unless the spirit of Truth and Freedom 
revolutionize the world. 


In "A Doll's House" Ibsen returns to the 
subject so vital to him, — the Social Lie and Duty, 
— this time as manifesting themselves in the sacred 
institution of the home and in the position of 
woman in her gilded cage. 

Nora is the beloved, adored wife of Torvald 
Helmer. He is an admirable man, rigidly hon- 
est, of high moral ideals, and passionately devoted 
to his wife and children. In short, a good man 
and an enviable husband. Almost every mother 
would be proud of such a match for her daughter, 
and the latter would consider herself fortunate 
to become the wife of such a man. 

Nora, too, considers herself fortunate. In- 
deed, she worships her husband, believes in him 
implicitly, and is sure that if ever her safety should 
be menaced, Torvald, her idol, her god, would 
perform the miracle. 

When a woman loves as Nora does, nothing 

A DolVs House 19 

else matters; least of all, social, legal or moral 
considerations. Therefore, when her husband's 
life is threatened, it is no effort, it is joy for Nora 
to forge her father's name to a note and borrow 
800 cronen on it, in order to take her sick husband 
to Italy. 

In her eagerness to serve her husband, and in 
perfect innocence of the legal aspect of her act, 
she does not give the matter much thought, except 
for her anxiety to shield him from any emergency 
that may call upon him to perform the miracle in 
her behalf. She works hard, and saves every 
penny of her pin-money to pay back the amount 
she borrowed oh the forged check. 

Nora is light-hearted and gay, apparently with- 
out depth. Who, indeed, would expect depth of 
a doll, a "squirrel," a song-bird? Her purpose 
in life is to be happy for her husband's sake, for 
the sake of the children; to sing, dance, and play 
with them. Besides, is she not shielded, pro- 
tected, and cared for? Who, then, would suspect 
Nora of depth? But already in the opening 
scene, when Torvald inquires what his precious 
" squirrel " wants for a Christmas present, Nora 
quickly asks him for money. Is it to buy maca- 
roons or finery? In her talk with Mrs. Linden, 
Nora reveals her inner self, and forecasts the in- 
evitable debacle of her doll's house. 

After telling her friend how she had saved her 

20 Henrik Ibsen 

husband, Nora says : " When Torvald gave me 
money for clothes and so on, I never used more 
than half of it; I always bought the simplest 
things. . . . Torvald never noticed anything. 
But it was often very hard, Christina dear. For 
it's nice to be beautifully dressed. Now, isn't 
it ? . . . Well, and besides that, I made money in 
other ways. Last winter I was so lucky — I got 
a heap of copying to do. I shut myself up every 
evening and wrote far into the night. Oh, some- 
times I was so tired, so tired. And yet it was 
splendid to work in that way and earn money. I 
almost felt as if I was a man." 

Down deep in the consciousness of Nora there 
evidently slumbers personality and character, 
which could come into full bloom only through a 
great miracle — not the kind Nora hopes for, but 
a miracle just the same. 

Nora had borrowed the money from Nils 
Krogstad, a man with a shady past in the eyes of 
the community and of the righteous moralist, Tor- 
vald Helmer. So long as Krogstad is allowed 
the little breathing space a Christian people 
grants to him who has once broken its laws, he is 
reasonably human. He does not molest Nora. 
But when Helmer becomes director of the bank in 
which Krogstad is employed, and threatens the 
man with dismissal, Krogstad naturally fights back. 
For as he says to Nora: " If need be, I shall 

A DolVs House 21 

fight as though for my life to keep my little place 
in the bank. . . . It's not only for the money: 
that matters least to me. It's something else. 
Well, I'd better make a clean breast of it. Of 
course you know, like every one else, that some 
years ago I — got into trouble. . . . The matter 
never came into court; but from that moment all 
paths were barred to me. Then I took up the 
business you know about. I was obliged to grasp 
at something; and I don't think I've been one of 
the worst. But now I must clear out of it all. 
My sons are growing up; for their sake I must 
try to win back as much respectability as I can. 
This place in the bank was the first step, and now 
your husband wants to kick me off the ladder, 
back into the mire. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently 
have no clear idea what you have really done. 
But I can assure you that it was nothing more 
and nothing worse that made me an outcast from 
society. . . . But this I may tell you, that if I'm 
flung into the gutter a second time, you shall keep 
me company." 

Even when Nora is confronted with this awful 
threat, she does not fear for herself, only for 
Torvald, — so good, so true, who has such an 
aversion to debts, but who loves her so devotedly 
that for her sake he would take the blame upon 
himself. But this must never be. Nora, too, be- 
gins a fight for life, for her husband's life and that 

22 Henrik Ibsen 

of her children. Did not Helmer tell her that 
the very presence of a criminal like Krogstad 
poisons the children? And is she not a criminal? 

Torvald Helmer assures her, in his male con- 
ceit, that " early corruption generally comes from 
the mother's side, but of course the father's in- 
fluence may act in the same way. And this Krog- 
stad has been poisoning his own children for years 
past by a life of lies and hypocrisy — that's why 
I call him morally ruined." 

Poor Nora, who cannot understand why a 
daughter has no right to spare her dying father 
anxiety, or why a wife has no right to save her 
husband's life, is surely not aware of the true 
character of her idol. But gradually the veil is 
lifted. At first, when in reply to her desperate 
pleading for Krogstad, her husband discloses the 
true reason for wanting to get rid of him: " The 
fact is, he was a college chum of mine — there 
was one of those rash friendships between us that 
one so often repents later. I don't mind con- 
fessing it — he calls me by my Christian name; 
and he insists on doing It even when others are 
present. He delights in putting on airs of fa- 
miliarity — Torvald here, Torvald there! I as- 
sure you it's most painful to me. He would make 
my position at the bank perfectly unendurable." 

And then again when the final blow comes. 
For forty-eight hours Nora battles for her ideal, 

A Doll's House 23 

never doubting Torvald for a moment. Indeed, 
so absolutely sure is she of her strong oak, her 
lord, her god, that she would rather kill herself 
than have him take the blame for her act. The 
end comes, and with It the doll's house tumbles 
down, and Nora discards her doll's dress — she 
sheds her skin, as it were. Torvald Helmer 
proves himself a petty Philistine, a bully and a 
coward, as so many good husbands when they 
throw off their respectable doak. 

Helmer^s rage over Nora^s crime subsides the 
moment the danger of publicity is averted — prov- 
ing that Helmer, like many a moralist, is not so 
mudi Incensed at Nora's offense as by the fear 
of being found out. Not so Nora. Finding out 
is her salvation. It Is then that she realizes how 
much she has been wronged, that she is only a 
plaything, a doll to Helmer. In her disillusion- 
ment she says, " You have never loved me. You 
only thought It amusing to be in love with me." 

Helmer. Why, Nora, what a thing to say! 

Nora. Yes, it is so, Torvald. While I was at home 
with father he used to tell me all his opinions and I 
held the same opinions. If I had others I concealed them, 
because he would not have liked it. He used to call me 
his doll child, and play with me as I played with my 
dolls. Then I came to live in your house ... I 

mean I passed from father's hands into yours. You 
setded everything according to your taste; and I got the 

24 Henrik Ibsen 

same tastes as you; or I pretended to — I don't know 
which — both ways perhaps. When I look back on it 
now, I seem to have been living here like a beggar, from 
hand to mouth. I lived by performing tricks for you, 
Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father 
have done me a great wrong. It's your fault that my 
life has been wasted. • • . 

Helmer. It's exasperating! Can you forsake your 
holiest duties in this way? 

Nora. What do you call my holiest duties? 

Helmer. Do you ask me that? Your duties to your 
husband and your children. 

Nora. I have other duties equally sacred. 

Helmer. Impossible! What duties do you mean? 

Nora. My duties toward myself. 

Helmer. Before all else you are a wift and a mother. 

Nora. That I no longer believe. I think that before 
all else I am a human being, just as much as you are 
— or, at least, I will try to become one. I know that 
most people agree with you, Torvald, and that they say 
so in books. But henceforth I can't be satisfied with 
what most people say, and what is in books. I must 
think thing? out for myself and try to get dear about 
them. ... I had been living here these eight years with 
a strange man, and had borne him three children — Oh ! 
I can't bear to think of it — I could tear myself to pieces! 
... I can't spend the night in a strange man's house. 

Is there anything more degrading to woman 
than to live with a stranger, and bear him chil- 
dren? Yet, the He of the marriage institution de- 

Ghosts 25 

crees that she shall continue to do so, and the 
social conception of duty insists that for the sake 
of that lie she need be nothing else than a play- 
thing, a doll, a nonentity. 

When Nora closes behind her the door of her 
dolFs house, she opens wide the gate of life for 
woman, and proclaims the revolutionary message 
that only perfect freedom and communion make a 
true bond between man and woman, meeting in 
the open, without lies, without shame, free from 
the bondage of duty. 


The social and revolutionary significance of 
Henrik Ibsen is brought out with even greater 
force in " Ghosts " than in his preceding works. 

Not only does this pioneer of modern dramatic 
art undermine in " Ghosts " the Social Lie and 
the paralyzing effect of Duty, but the uselessness 
and evil of Sacrifice, the dreary Lack of Joy and 
of Purpose in Work are brought to light as most 
pernicious and destructive elements in life. 

Mrs. Alving, having made what her family 
called a most admirable match, discovers shortly 
after her marriage that her husband is a drunkard 
and a roue. In her despair she flees to her young 
friend, the divinity student Manders. But he, 
preparing to save souls, even though they be en- 

26 Henrik Ibsen 

cased In rotten bodies, sends Mrs. Alving back to 
her husband and her duties toward her home. 

Helen Alving is young and immature. Besides, 
she loves young Manders; his command is law to 
her. She returns home, and for twenty-five years 
suffers all the misery and torture of the damned. 
That she survives is due mainly to her passionate 
love for the child born of that horrible relation- 
ship — her boy Oswald, her all in life. He must 
be saved at any cost. To do that, she had sacri- 
ficed her great yearning for him and sent him 
away from the poisonous atmosphere of her home. 

And now he has returned, fine and free, much 
to the disgust of Pastor Manders, whose limited 
vision cannot conceive that out in the large world 
free men and women can live a decent and cre- 
ative life. 

Manders. But how is it possible that a — a young 
man or young woman with any decent principles can 
endure to live in that way? — in the eyes of all the 
world ! 

Oswald. What are they to do? A poor young artist 
— a poor girl. It costs a lot of money to get married. 
What are they to do? 

Manders. What are they to do? Let me tell you, 
Mr. Alving, what they ought to do. They ought to 
exercise self-restraint from the first; that's what they 
ought to do. 

Ghosts 27 

Oswald. Such talk as that won't go far with warm- 
blooded young people, over head and ears in love. 

Mrs. Alving. No, it wouldn't go far. 

Manders. How can the authorities tolerate such 
things? Allow it to go on in the light of day? {To 
Mrs. Alving,) Had I not cause to be deeply concerned 
about your son? In circles where open immorality pre- 
vails, and has even a sort of prestige ! 

Oswald. Let me tell you, sir, that I have been a con- 
stant Sunday-guest in one or two such irregular 

Manders. On Sunday of all days! 

Oswald. Isn't that the day to enjoy one's self? Well, 
never have I heard an offensive word, and still less have 
I ever witnessed anything that could be called immoral. 
No; do you know when and where I have found immo- 
rality in artistic circles? 

Manders. No! Thank heaven, I don't! 

Oswald. Well, then, allow me to inform you. I have 
met with it when one or other of our pattern husbands 
and fathers has come to Paris to have a look around on 
his own account, and has done the artists the honor of 
visiting their humble haunts. They knew what was 
what. These gentlemen could tell us all about places 
and things we had never dreamt of. 

Manders. What? Do you mean to say that respect- 
able men from home here would ? 

Oswald. Have you never heard these respectable men, 
when they got home again, talking about the way in 
which immorality was running rampant abroad ? 

28 Henrik Ibsen 

Menders. Yes, of course. 

Mrs. Alving. I have, too. 

Oswald. Well, you may take their word for it. 
They know what they are talking about! Oh! that that 
great, free, glorious life out there should be defiled in 
such a way! 

Pastor Manders is outraged, and when Oswald 
leaves, he delivers himself of a tirade against Mrs. 
Alving for her '* irresponsible proclivities to shirk 
her duty." 

Manders. It is only the spirit of rebellion that craves 
for happiness in this life. What right have we human 
beings to happiness? No, we have to do our duty! 
And your duty was to hold firmly to the man you had 
once chosen and to whom you were bound by a holy tie. 
... It was your duty to bear with humility the cross 
which a Higher Power had, for your own good, laid 
upon you. But instead of that you rebelliously cast away 
the cross. ... I was but a poor instrument in a Higher 
Hand. And what a blessing has it not been to you all 
the days of your life, that I got you to resume the yoke 
of duty and obedience! 

The price Mrs. Alving had to pay for her yoke, 
her duty and obedience, staggers even Dr. Man- 
ders, when she reveals to him the martyrdom she 
had endured those long years. 

Mrs. Alving. You have now spoken out. Pastor Man- 
ders; and to-morrow you are to speak publicly in memory 

Ghosts 29 

of my husband. I shall not speak to-morrow. But now 
I will speak out a little to you, as you have spoken to 
me. ... I want you to know that after nineteen years 
of marriage my husband remained as dissolute in his de- 
sires as he was when you married us. After Oswald's 
birth, I thought Alving seemed to be a little better. But 
it did not last long. And then I had to struggle twice 
as hard, fighting for life or death, so that nobody should 
know what sort of a man my child's father was. I had 
my little son to bear it for. But when the last insult 
was added; when my own servant-maid—^ Then I 
swore to m3rself : This shall come to an end. And so I 
took the upper hand in the house — the whole control 
over him and over everything else. For now I had a 
weapon against him, you see; he dared not oppose me. 
It was then that Oswald was sent from home. He was 
in his seventh year, and was beginning to observe and 
ask questions, as children do. That I could not bear. 
1 thought the child must get poisoned by merely breath- 
ing the air in this polluted home. That was why I 
placed him out. And now you can see, too, why he was 
never allowed to set foot inside his home so long as his 
father lived. No one knows what it has cost me. . . . 
From the day after to-morrow it shall be for me as 
though he who is dead had never lived in this house. 
No one shall be here but my boy and his mother. {From 
within the dining-room comes the noise of a chair over- 
turned, and at the same moment is heard:) 

Regind (sharply, but whispering), Oswald! take care! 
are you mad? let me go! 

Mrs. Jiving (starts in terror). Ah! (She stares 

30 Henrik Ibsen 

wildly toward the half -opened door, Oswald is heard 
coughing and humming inside, 

Manders {excited). What in the world is the mat- 
ter? What IS It, Mrs. Alving? 

Mrs. Alving {hoarsely). Ghosts! The couple from 
the conservatory has risen again! 

Ghosts, indeed I Mrs, Alving sees this but tocy 
clearly when she discovers that though she did not 
want Oswald to inherit a single penny from the 
purchase money Captain Alving had paid for her, 
all her sacrifice did not save Oswald from the 
poisoned heritage of his father. She learns soon 
enough that her beloved boy had inherited a terri- 
ble disease from his father, as a result of which he 
will never again be able to work. She also finds 
out that, for all her freedom, she has remained in 
the clutches of Ghosts, and that she has fostered 
in Oswald's mind an ideal of his father, the more 
terrible because of her own loathing for the man. 
Too late she realizes her fatal mistake : 

Mrs. Alving, I ought never to have concealed the 
facts of Alving's life. But ... in my superstitious awe 
for Duty and Decency I lied to my boy, year after year. 
Oh! what a coward, what a coward I have been! . . . 
Ghosts! When I heard Regina and Oswald in there, 
it was as though I saw the Ghosts before me. But I 
almost think we are all of us Ghosts, Pastor Manders. 
It IS not only what we have inherited from our father 
and mother that " walks " in us. It is all sorts of dead 

Ghosts 31 

ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have 
no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and wt 
can't get rid of them. . . . There must be Ghosts all 
the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea. And 
then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light. 
. . . When you forced me under the yoke you called 
Duty and Obligation; when you praised as right and 
proper what my whole soul rebelled against, as some- 
thing loathsome. It was then that I began to look into 
the seams of your doctrine. I only wished to pick at a 
single knot; but when I had got that undone, the whole 
thing ravelled out. And then I understood that it was 
all machine-sewn. ... It was a crime against us both. 

Indeed, a crime on which the sacred institution 
IS built, and for which thousands of innocent chil- 
dren must pay with their happiness and life, while 
their mothers continue to the very end without 
ever learning how hideously criminal their life is. 

Not so Mrs. Alving who, though at a terrible 
price, works herself out to the truth ; aye, even to 
the height of understanding the dissolute life of 
the father of her child, who had lived in cramped 
provincial surroundings, and could find no purpose 
in life, no outlet for his exuberance. It is through 
her child, through Oswald, that all this becomes 
illumed to her. 

Oswald. Ah, the joy of life, mother; that's a thing 
you don't know much about in these parts. I have 
never felt it here. . . . And then, too, the joy of work. 

32 Henrik Ibsen 

At bottom, it's the same thing. But that too you know 
nothing about. . . . Here people are brought up to be- 
lieve that work is a curse and a punishment for sin, and 
that life is something miserable, something we want to 
be done with, the sooner the better. . . • Have you 
noticed that everything I have painted has turned upon 
the joy of life? always, always upon the joy of life? — 
light and sunshine and glorious air, and faces radiant 
with happiness? That is why I am afraid of remaining 
at home with you. 

Mrs. Alving, Oswald, you spoke of the joy of life; 
and at that word a new light burst for me over my life 
and all it has contained. . . . You ought to have known 
your father when he was a young lieutenant. He was 
brimming over with the joy of life! . . . He had no 
object in life, but only an official position. He had no 
work into which he could throw himself heart and soul; 
he had only business. He had not a single comrade that 
knew what the joy of life meant — only loafers and boon 

companions ... So that happened which was sure 

to happen. . . . Oswald, my dear boy; has it shaken 
you very much? 

Oswald. Of course it came upon me as a great sur- 
prise, but, after all, it can't matter much to me. 

Mrs. Alving. Can't matter! That your father was 
so infinitely miserable! 

Oswald. Of course I can pity him as I would any- 
body else; but 

Mrs. Alving. Nothing more? Your own father! 

Oswald. Oh, there! " Father," " father " ! I never 

Ghosts 33 

knew anything of father. I don't remember anything 
about him except — that he once made me sick. 

Mrs, Alving. That's a terrible way to speak! 
Should not a son love his father, all the same? 

Oswald. When a son has nothing to thank his father 
for? has never known him? Do you really cling to the 
old superstition? — you who are so enlightened in other 

Mrs. Alving. Is that only a superstition? 

In truth, a superstition — one that is kept like 
the sword of Damocles over the child who does 
not ask to be given life, and is yet tied with a 
thousand chains to those who bring him into a 
cheerless, joyless, and wretched world. 

The voice of Henrik Ibsen in " Ghosts " sounds 
like the trumpets before the walls of Jericho. 
Into the remotest nooks and corners reaches his 
voice, with its thundering indictment of our moral 
cancers, our social poisons, our hideous crimes 
against unborn and born victims. Verily a more 
revolutionary condemnation has never been ut- 
tered in dramatic form before or since the great 
Henrik Ibsen. 

We need, therefore, not be surprised at the vile 
abuse and denunciation heaped upon Ibsen's head 
by the Church, the State, and other moral eunuchs. 
But the spirit of Henrik Ibsen could not be 

34 Henrik Ibsen 

daunted. It asserted itself with even greater de- 
fiance in " An Enemy of Society," — a powerful 
arraignment of the political and economic Lie, 
— Ibsen's own confession of faith. 


Dr. Thomas Stockmann is called to the po- 
sition of medical adviser to the management of 
the " Baths," the main resource of his native town. 

A sincere man of high ideals, Dr. Stockmann 
returns home after an absence of many years, full 
of the spirit of enterprise and progressive inno- 
vation. For as he says to his brother Peter, the 
town Burgomaster, " I am so glad and content. 
I feel so unspeakably happy in the midst of all 
this growing, germinating life. After all, what a 
glorious time we do live in. It is as if a new 
world were springing up around us." 

Burgomaster. Do you really think so? 

Dr, Stockmann. Well, of course, you can't see this 
as clearly as I do. YouVe spent all your life in this 
place, and so your perceptions have been dulled. But I, 
who had to live up there in that small hole in the north 
all those years, hardly ever seeing a soul to speak a 
stimulating word to me — all this affects me as if I were 
carried to the midst of a crowded city — I know well 
enough that the conditions of life are small compared 
vwth many other towns. But here is life, growth, an 

An Enemy of Society 35 

infinity of things to work for and to strive for; and that 
is the main point. 

In this spirit Dr. Stockmann sets to his task. 
After two years of careful investigation, he finds 
that the Baths are built on a swamp, full of poi- 
sonous germs, and that people who come there for 
their health will be infected with fever. 

Thomas Stockmann is a conscientious physician. 
He loves his native town, but he loves his 
fellow-men more. He considers it his duty to 
communicate his discovery to the highest authority 
of the town, the Burgomaster, his brother Peter 

Dr. Stockmann is indeed an idealist; else he 
would know that the man is often lost in the of- 
ficial. Besides, Peter Stockmann is also the 
president of the board of directors and one of the 
heaviest stockholders of the Baths. Sufficient rea- 
son to upbraid his reckless medical brother as a 
dangerous man : 

Burgomaster. Anyhow, youVe an ingrained propen- 
sity for going your own way. And that in a well-or- 
dered community is almost as dangerous. The individual 
must submit himself to the whole community, or, to speak 
more correctly, bow to the authority that watches over 
the welfare of all. 

But the Doctor is not disconcerted: Peter is 
an official; he is not concerned with ideals. But 

36 Henrik Ibsen 

there Is thp press, — that is the medium for his 
purpose! The staff of the People's Messenger 
— Hovstad, Billings, and Aslaksen, are deeply 
impressed by the Doctor's discovery. With one 
eye to good copy and the other to the political 
chances, they immediately put the People's Mes- 
senger at the disposal of Thomas Stockmann. 
Hovstad sees great possibilities for a thorough 
radical reform of the whole life of the commun- 

Hovstad. To you, as a doctor and a man of science, 
this business of the water-works in an isolated affair. 
I fancy it hasn*t occurred to you that a good many other 
things are connected with it. . . . The swamp our whole 
municipal life stands and rots in. ... I think a journal- 
ist assumes an immense responsibility when he neglects 
an opportunity of aiding the masses, the poor, the op- 
pressed. I know well enough that the upper classes will 
call this stirring up the people, and so forth, but they can 
do as they please, if only my conscience is clear. 

Aslaksen, printer of the People's Messenger, 
chairman of the Householders' Association, and 
agent for the Moderation Society, has, like Hov- 
stad, 2L keen eye to business. He assures the 
Doctor of his whole-hearted cooperation, espe- 
cially emphasizing that, " It might do you no harm 
to have us middle-class men at your back. We 
now form a compact majority in the town — 
when we really make up our minds to. And it's 

An Enemy of Society 37 

always as well, Doctor, to have the majority with 
you. . . . And so I think it wouldn't be amiss if 
we made some sort of a demonstration. ... Of 
course with great moderation, Doctor. I am al- 
ways in favor of moderation; for moderation is a 
citizen's first virtue — at least those are my senti- 

Truly, Dr. Stockmann is an idealist; else he 
would not place so much faith in the staff of the 
People's Messenger, who love the people so well 
that they constantly feed them with high-sounding 
phrases of democratic principles and of the noble 
function of the press, while they pilfer their pock- 

That is expressed in Hovstad's own words, 
when Petra, the daughter of Dr. Stockmann, re- 
turns a sentimental novel she was to translate for 
the People's Messenger: " This can't possibly 
go into the Messenger," she tells Hovstad; '* it is 
in direct contradiction to your own opinion." 

Hovstad. Well, but for the sake of the cause — 

Petra. You don*t understand me yet. It is all about 
a supernatural power that looks after the so-called good 
people here on earth, and turns all things to their ad- 
vantage at last, and all the bad people are punished. 

Hovstad. Yes, but that's very fine. It*s the very 
thing the public like. 

Petra. And would you supply the public with such 
stuff? Why, you don't believe one word of it yourself. 

38 Henrik Ibsen 

You know well enough that things don't really happen 
like that. 

Hovstad. You're right there; but an editor can't 
always do as he likes. He often has to yield to public 
opinion in small matters. After all, politics is the chief 
thing in life — at any rate for a newspaper; and if I 
want the people to follow me along the path of emanci- 
pation and progress, I mustn't scare them away. If they 
find such a moral story down in the cellar, they're much 
more willing to stand what is printed above it — they 
feel themselves safer. 

Editors of the stamp of Hovstad seldom dare 
to express their real opinions. They cannot af- 
ford to " scare away " their readers. They gen- 
erally yield to the most ignorant and vulgar public 
opinion; they do not set themselves up against 
constituted authority. Therefore the People's 
Messenger drops the " greatest man " in town 
when it learns that the Burgomaster and the influ- 
ential citizens are determined that the truth shall 
be silenced. The Burgomaster soundly de- 
nounces his brother's " rebellion." 

Burgomaster, The public doesn't need new ideas. 
The public is best served by the good old recognized 
ideas that they have already. ... As an official, you've 
no right to have any individual conviction. 

Dr, Stockmann, The source is poisoned, man! Are 
you mad? We live by trafficking in filth and garbage. 
The whole of our developing social life is rooted in a lie ! 

An Enemy of Society 39 

Burgomaster. Idle fancies — or something worse. 
The man who makes such offensive insinuations against 
his own native place must be an enemy of society. 

Dr. Stockmann. And I must bear such treatment! 
In my own house. ICatrine! What do you think of it? 

Mrs. Stockmann. Indeed, it is a shame and an insult, 

Thomas . . • But, after all, your brother has the 


Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but I have the right! 

Mrs. Stockmann. Ah, yes, right, right! What is the 
good of being right when you haven't any might? 

Dr. Stockmann. What! No good in a free society to 
have right on your side? You are absurd, Katrine. And 
besides, haven't I the free and independent press with me ? 
The compact majority behind me? That's might enough, 
I should think! 

Katrine Stockmann is wiser than her husband. 
For he who has no might need hope for no right. 
The good Doctor has to drink the bitter cup to the 
last drop before he realizes the wisdom of his 

Threatened by the authorities and repudiated 
by the People's Messenger, Dr. Stockmann at- 
tempts to secure a hall wherein to hold a public 
meeting. A free-born citizen, he believes in the 
Constitution and its guarantees; he is determined 
to maintain his right of free expression. But like 
so many others, even most advanced liberals 
blinded by the spook of constitutional rights and 

40 Henrik Ibsen 

^ free speech, Dr. Stockmann inevitably has to pay 
the penalty of his credulity. He finds every hall 
in town closed against him. Only one solitary 
citizen has the courage to open his doors to the 
persecuted Doctor, — his old friend Horster. 
But the mob follows him even there and howls 
him down as an enemy of society. Thomas 
Stockmann makes the discovery in his battle with 
ignorance, stupidity, and vested interests that " the 
most dangerous enemies of truth and freedom in 
our midst are the compact majority, the damned 
compact liberal majority." His experiences lead 
him to the conclusion that " the majority is never 
right. . . . That is one of those conventional lies 
against which a free, thoughtful man must rebel. 
. . . The majority has might unhappily — but 
right it has not." 

Hovstad, The man who would ruin a whole com- 
munity must be an enemy of society! 

Dr. Stockmann. It doesn't matter if a lying com- 
munity is mined! . . . You'll poison the whole country 
in time; you will bring it to such a pass that the whole 
country will deserve to perish. And should it come to 
this, I say, from the bottom of my heart: Perish the 
country! Perish all its people! 

Driven out of the place, hooted and jeered by 
the mob, Dr. Stockmann barely escapes with his 
life, and seeks safety in his home, only to find 

An Enemy of Society 41 

everything demolished there. In due time he is 
repudiated by the grocer, the baker, and the can- 
dlestick maker. The landlord, of course, is very 
sorry for him. The Stockmanns have always 
paid their rent regularly, but it would injure his 
reputation to have such an avowed rebel for a 
tenant. The grocer is sorry, and the butcher, 
too; but they can not jeopardize their business. 
Finally the board of education sends expressions 
of regret: Petra is an excellent teacher and the 
boys of Stockmann splendid pupils, but it would 
contaminate the other children were the Stock- 
manns allowed to remain at school. And again 
Dr. Stockmann learns a vital lesson. But he will 
not submit ; he will be strong. 

Dr. Stockmann. Should I let myself be beaten oflF the 
field by public opinion, and the compact majority, and 
such deviltry? No, thanks. Besides, what I want is so 
simple, so clear and straightforward. I only want to 
drive into the heads of these curs that the Liberals are 
the worst foes of free men ; that party-programmes wring 
the necks of all young living truths; that considerations 
of expediency turn morality and righteousness upside 
down, until life is simply hideous. ... I don^t see any 
man free and brave enough to dare the Truth. . . . The 
strongest man is he who stands most alone. 

A confession of faith, indeed, because Henrik 
Ibsen, although recognized as a great dramatic 

42 Henrik Ibsen 

artist, remained alone in his stand as a revolution- 

His dramatic art, without his glorious rebellion 
against every authoritative institution, against 
every social and moral lie, against every vestige 
of bondage, were inconceivable. Just as his art 
would lose human significance, were his love of 
truth and freedom lacking. Already in " Brand," 
Henrik Ibsen demanded all or nothing, no weak- 
kneed moderation, — no compromise of any sort in 
the struggle for the ideal. His proud defiance, 
his enthusiastic daring, his utter indifference to 
consequences, are Henrik Ibsen's bugle call, her- 
alding a new dawn and the birth of a new race. 


**^ ■ ^HE reproach was levelled against my ' 
I tragedy, *The Father,' that it was 
I so sad, as though one wanted merry ' 
•^^ tragedies. People clamour for the 
joy of life, and the theatrical managers order 
farces, as though the joy of life consisted in being 
foolish, and in describing people as if they were 
each and all afflicted with St. Vitus's dance or 
idiocy. I find the joy of life in the powerful, \ 
cruel struggle of life, and my enjoyment in dis- I 
covering something, in learning something." 

The passionate desire to discover something, 
to learn something, has made of August Strind- 
berg a keen dissector of souls. Above all, of his 
own soul. 

Surely there Is no figure in contemporary litera- 
ture, outside of Tolstoy, that laid bare the most 
secret nooks and corners of his own soul with the 
sincerity of August Strindberg. One so relent-' 
lessly honest with himself, could be no less with 

That explains the bitter opposition and hatred 
of his critics. They did not object so much to 
Strindberg's self-torture; but that he should have 


44 Strindberg 

dared to torture them, to hold up his searching 
mirror to their sore spots, that they could not 

I forgive. 

Especially is this true of woman. For cen- 
turies she has been lulled into a trance by the songs 
of the troubadours who paid homage to her good- 
ness, her sweetness, her selflessness and, above all, 
her noble motherhood. And though she Is begin- 
ning to appreciate that all this incense has be- 
fogged her mind and paralyzed her soul, she hates 
to give up the tribute laid at her feet by senti- 
mental moonshiners of the past. 

To be sure, it is rude to turn on the full search- 
light upon a painted face. But how is one to 
know what is back of the paint and artifice ? Au- 
gust Strindberg hated artifice with all the passion 
of his being; hence his severe criticism of woman. 
Perhaps it was his tragedy to see her as she really 
is, and not as she appears in her trance. To love 
with open eyes is, indeed, a tragedy, and Strind- 
berg loved woman. All his life long he yearned 
for her love, as mother, as wife, as companion. 
But his longing for, and his need of her, were the 
crucible of Strindberg, as they have been the cruci- 
ble of every man, even of the mightiest spirit. 

Why It is so is best expressed In the words of 
the old nurse, Margret, in '* The Father'': 

! " Because all you men, great and small, are wom- 

: an's children, every man of you." 

The Father 45 

The child in man — and the greater the man 
the more dominant the child in him — has ever 
succumbed to the Earth Spirit, Woman, and as 
long as that is her only drawing power, Man, 
with all his strength and genius, will ever be at her 

The Earth Spirit is motherhood carrying the 
race in its womb; the flame of life luring the 
moth, often against its will, to destruction. 

In all of Strindberg's plays we see the flame 
of life at work, ravishing man's brain, consuming 
man's faith, rousing man's passion. Always, al- 
ways the flame of life is drawing its victims with 
irresistible force. August Strindberg's arraign- 
ment of that force is at the same time a confes- 
sion of faith. He, too, was the child of woman, 
and utterly helpless before her. 


" The Father " portrays the tragedy of a man 
and a woman struggling for the possession of their 
child. The father, a cavalry captain, is intel- 
lectual, a freethinker, a man of ideas. His wife 
is narrow, selfish, and unscrupulous in her methods 
when her antagonism is wakened. 

Other members of the family are the wife's 
mother, a Spiritualist, and the Captain's old nurse, 
Margret, ignorant and superstitious. The father 

46 Strindberg 

feels that the child would be poisoned in such an 
atmosphere : 

The Captain. This house is full of women who all 
want to have their say about my child. My mother-in- 
law wants to make a Spiritualist of her. Laura wants 
her to be an artist! the governess wants her to be a 
Methodist, old Margret a Baptist, and the servant-girls 
want her to join the Salvation Army! It won*t do to 
try to make a soul in patches like that. I, who have the 
chief right to try to form her character, am constantly 
opposed in my efforts. And that's why I have decided 
to send her away from home. 

But it is not only because the Captain does not 
believe in *' making a soul in patches," that he 
wants to rescue the child from the hot-house en- 
vironment, nor because he plans to make her an 
image of himself. It is rather because he wants 
her to grow up with a healthy outlook on life. 

The Captain. I don't want to be a procurer for my 
daughter and educate her exclusively for matrimony, for 
then if she were left unmarried she might have bitter 
days. On the other hand, I don't want to influence her 
toward a career that requires a long course of training 
which would be entirely thrown away if she should 
marry. I want her to be a teacher. If she remains un- 
married she will be able to support herself, and at any 
rate she wouldn't be any worse off than the poor school- 
masters who have to share their salaries with a family. 

The Father 47 

If she marries she can use her knowledge in the educa- 
tion of her children. 

While the father's love is concerned with the 
development of the child, that of the mother is 
interested mainly in the possession of the child. 
Therefore she fights the man with every means 
at her command, even to the point of instilling the 
poison of doubt into his mind, by hints that he is 
not the father of the child. Not only does she 
seek to drive her husband mad, but through skillful 
intrigue she leads every one, including the Doc- 
tor, to believe that he is actually insane. Finally 
even the old nurse is induced to betray him: she 
slips the straitjacket over him, adding the last 
touch to the treachery. Robbed of his faith, 
broken in spirit and subdued, the Captain dies a 
victim of the Earth Spirit — of motherhood, 
which slays the man for the sake of the child. 
Laura herself will have it so when she tells her 
husband, " You have fulfilled your function as 
an unfortunately necessary father and breadwin- 
ner. You are not needed any longer, and you 
must go." 

Critics have pronounced " The Father " an 
aberration of Strindberg's mind, utterly false and 
distorted. But that is because they hate to face 
the truth. In Strindberg, however, the truth is 
his most revolutionary significance. 

48 Strindberg 

" The Father " contains two basic truths. 
Motherhood, much praised, poetized, and hailed 
as a wonderful thing, is in reality very often the 
greatest deterrent influence in the life of the child. 
Because it is not primarily concerned with the po- 
tentialities of character and growth of the child; 
on the contrary, it is interested chiefly in the birth- 
giver, — that is, the mother. Therefore, the 
mother is the most subjective, self-centered and 
conservative obstacle. She binds the child to her- 
self with a thousand threads which never grant 
sufficient freedom for mental and spiritual ex- 
pansion. It is not necessary to be as bitter as 
Strindberg to realize this. There are of course 
exceptional mothers who continue to grow with 
the child. But the average mother is like the hen 
with her brood, forever fretting about her chicks 
if they venture a step away from the coop. The 
mother enslaves with kindness, — a bondage 
harder to bear and more difficult to escape than 
the brutal fist of the father. 

Strindberg himself experienced it, and nearly 
every one who has ever attempted to outgrow the 
soul strings of the mother. 

In portraying motherhood, as it really is, Au- 
gust Strindberg is conveying a vital and revolu- 
tionary message, namely, that true motherhood, 
even as fatherhood, does not consist in molding 
the child according to one's image, or in imposing 

The Father 49 

upon it one's own ideas and notions, but in allow- 
ing the child freedom and opportunity to grow 
harmoniously according to its own potentialities, 
unhampered and unmarred. 

The child was August Strindberg's religion, — 
perhaps because of his own very tragic childhood 
and youth. He was like Father Time in " Jude 
the Obscure,'^ a giant child, and as he has Laura 
say of the Cjaptain in ** The Father," " he had 
either come too early into the world, or perhaps 
was not wanted at all." 

" Yes, that's how it was," the Captain replies, 
"my father's and my mother's will was against 
my coming into the world, and consequently I 
was born without a will." 

[The horror of having been brought into the 
world undesired and unloved, stamped its indeli- 
ble mark on August Strindberg. It never left 
him. Nor did fear and hunger — the two ter- 
rible phantoms of his childhood. 

Indeed, the child was Strindberg's religion, his 
faith, his passion. Is it then surprising that he 
should have resented woman's attitude towards 
the man as a mere means to the child; or, in the 
words of Laura, as " the function of father and 
breadwinner"? That this is the attitude of 
woman, is of course denied. But it is neverthe- 
less true. It holds good not only of the average, 
unthinking woman, but even of many feminists of 

50 Strindberg 

to-day; and, no doubt, they were even more an- 
tagonistic to the male in Strindberg's time. 
, It is only too true that woman is paying back 
what she has endured for centuries — humiliation, 
subjection, and bondage. But making oneself 
free through the enslavement of another, is by 
no means a step toward advancement. Woman 
must grow to understand that the father is as vital 
a factor in the life of the child as is the mother. 
Such a realization would help very much to mini- 
mize the conflict between the sexes. 

Of course, that is not the only cause of the 
conflict. There is another, as expressed by Laura: 
" Do you remember when I first came into your 
life, I was like a second mother? ... I loved you 
as my child. But . . . when the nature of your 
feelings changed and you appeared as my lover, 
I blushed, and your embraces were joy that was 
followed by remorseful conscience as if my blood 
were ashamed." 

The vile thought instilled into woman by the 
Church and Puritanism that sex expression without 
the purpose of procreation is immoral, has been a 
most degrading influence. It has poisoned the 
life of thousands of women who similarly suffer 
"remorseful conscience"; therefore their disgust 
and hatred of the man ; therefore also the conflict. 

Must it always be thus ? Even Strindberg does 
not think so. Else he would not plead in behalf 

Countess Julie 51 

of " divorce between man and wife, so that lovers \ 
may be born." He felt that until man and woman 
cease to have " remorseful consciences " because 
of the most elemental expression of the joy of 
life, they cannot realize the purity and beauty of 
sex, nor appreciate its ecstasy, as the source of 
full understanding and creative harmony between 
male and female. Till then man and woman must 
remain in conflict, and the child pay the penalty. 
August Strindberg, as one of the numberless 
innocent victims of this terrible conflict, cries out 
bitterly against it, with the artistic genius and 
strength that compel attention to the significance 
of his message. 


In his masterly preface to this play, August 
Strinc^berg writes: *'The fact that my tragedy 
makes a sad impression on many is the fault of 
the many. When we become strong, as were the 
first French revolutionaries, it will make an ex- 
clusively pleasant and cheerful impression to see 
the royal parks cleared of rotting, superannuated 
trees which have too long stood in the way of 
others with equal right to vegetate their full life- 
time; it will make a good impression in the same 
sense as does the sight of the death of an incura^ 

52 Strindberg 

What a wealth of revolutionary thought, — 
were we to realize that those who will clear soci- 
ety of the rotting, superannuated trees that have 
so long been standing in the way of others entitled 
to an equal share in life, must be as strong as the 
great revolutionists of the past! 

Indeed, Strindberg is no trimmer, no cheap re- 
former, no patchworker; therefore his inability 
to remain fixed, or to content himself with ac-* 
cepted truths. Therefore also, his great versatil- 
ity, his deep grasp of the subtlest phases of life. 
Was he not forever the seeker, the restless spirit 
roaming the earth, ever in the death-throes of the 
Old, to give birth to the New? How, then, could 
he be other than relentless and grim and brutally 

" Countess Julie," a one-act tragedy, is no doubt 
a brutally frank portrayal of the most intimate 
thoughts of man and of the age-long antagonism 
between classes. Brutally frank, because August 
Strindberg strips both of their glitter, their sham 
and pretense, that we may see that " at bottom 
there's not so much difference between people and 
— people." 

Who in modern dramatic art is there to teach 
us that lesson with the insight of an August Strind- 
berg? He who had been tossed about all his life 
between the decadent traditions of his aristocratic 
father and the grim, sordid reality of the class 

Countess Julie 53 

of his mother. He who had been begotten 
through the physical mastery of his father and 
the physical subserviency of his mother. Verily, 
Strindberg knew whereof he spoke — for he 
spoke with his soul, a language whose significance 
is illuminating, compelling. 

Countess Julie inherited the primitive, in- 
tense passion of her mother and the neurotic aris- 
tocratic tendencies of her father. Added to this 
heritage is the call of the wild, the " intense sum- 
mer heat when the blood turns to fire, and when 
all are in a holiday spirit, full of gladness, and 
rank is flung aside." Countess Julie feels, when 
too late, that the barrier of rank reared through 
the ages, by wealth and power, is not flung aside 
with impunity. Therein the vicious brutality, the 
boundless injustice of rank. 

The people on the estate of Juliets father are 
celebrating St. John's Eve with dance, song and 
revelry. The Count is absent, and Julie gra- 
ciously mingles with the servants. But once hav- 
ing tasted the simple abandon of the people, once 
having thrown off the artifice and superficiality of 
her aristocratic decorum, her suppressed passions 
leap into full flame, and Julie throws herself into 
the arms of her father's valet, Jean — not be- 
cause of love for the man, nor yet openly and 
freely, but as persons of her station may do when 
carried away by the moment. 

54 Strindberg 

The woman in Julie pursues the male, follows 
him into the kitchen, plays with him as with a pet 
dog, and then feigns indignation when Jean, 
aroused, makes advances. How dare he, the 
servant, the lackey, even insinuate that she would 
have him I " I, the lady of the house ! I honor 
the people with my presence. I, in love with my 
coachman? I, who step down." 

How well Strindberg knows the psychology of 
the upper classes 1 How well he understands that 
their graciousness, their charity, their interest in 
the " common people " is, after all, nothing but 
arrogance, blind conceit of their own importance 
and ignorance of the character of the people. 

Even though Jean is a servant, he has his pride, 
he has his dreams. ** I was not hired to be your 
plaything," he says to Julie; " I think too much 
of myself for that." 

Strange, is it not, that those who serve and 
drudge for others, should think so much of them- 
selves as to refuse to be played with? Stranger 
still that they should indulge in dreams. Jean 

Do you know how people in high life look from the 
under-world? . . . They look like hawks and eagles 
whose backs one seldom sees, for they soar up above. I 
lived in a hovel provided by the State, with seven brothers 
and sisters and a pig ; out on a barren stretch where noth- 
ing grew, not even a tree, but from the window I could 
see the Count's park walls with apple trees rising above 

Countess Julie 55 

them. That was the garden of paradise ; and there stood 
many angry angels with flaming swords protecting it ; but 
for all that I and other boys found the way to the tree of 
life — now you despise me. ... I thought if it is true 
that the thief on the cross could enter heaven and dwell 
among the angels it was strange that a pauper child on 
God's earth could not go into the castle park and play 
with the Countess' daughter. . . . What I wanted — I 
don't know. You were unattainable, but through the 
vision of you I was made to realize how hopeless it was 
to rise above the conditions of my birth. 

What rich food for thought in the above for 
all of us, and for the Jeans, the people who do 
not know what they want, yet feel the cruelty of 
a world that keeps the pauper's child out of the 
castle of his dreams, away from joy and play 
and beauty! The injustice and the bitterness of 
it all, that places the stigma of birth as an im- 
passable obstacle, a fatal imperative excluding one 
from the table of life, with the result of producing 
such terrible effects on the Julies and the Jeans. 
The one unnerved, made helpless and useless by 
affluence, ease and idleness ; the other enslaved and 
bound by service and dependence. Even when 
Jean wants to, he cannot rise above his condi- 
tion. When Julie asks him to embrace her, to 
love her, he replies : 

I can't as long as we are in this house. . . . There 
IS the G)unt, your father. • • • I need only to see his 

56 Strindberg 

gloves lying in a chair to feel my own insignificance. I 
have only to hear his bell, to start like a nervous horse. 
. . . And now that I see his boots standing there so stiflE 
and proper, I feel like bowing and scraping. ... I can't 
account for it but — but ah, it is that damned servant in 
my back — I believe if the Count came here now, and 
told me to cut my throat, I would do it on the spot. . . . 
Superstition and prejudice taught in childhood can't be 
uprooted in a moment. 

No, superstition and prejudice cannot be up- 
rooted in a moment; nor in years. The awe of 
authority, servility before station and wealth — 
these are the curse of the Jean class that makes 
such cringing slaves of them. Cringing before 
those who are above them, tyrannical and over- 
bearing toward those who are below them. For 
Jean has the potentiality of the master in him as 
much as that of the slave. Yet degrading as 
** the damned servant " reacts upon Jean, it is 
much more terrible in its effect upon Kristin, the 
cook, the dull, dumb animal who has so little left 
of the spirit of independence that she has lost 
even the ambition to rise above her condition. 
Thus when Kristin, the betrothed of Jean, dis- 
covers that her mistress Julie had given herself 
to him, she is indignant that her lady should have 
so much forgotten her station as to stoop to her 
father's valet. 

Countess Julie 57 

Kristin. I don't want to be here in this house any 
longer where one cannot respect one's betters. 

Jean. Why should one respect them? 

Kristin. Yes, you can say that, you are so smart. 
But I don't want to serve people who behave so. It re- 
flects on oneself, I think. 

Jean. Yes, but it's a comfort that they're not a bit 
better than we. 

Kristin. No, I don't think so, for if they are not bet- 
ter there's no use in our trying to better ourselves in this 
world. And to think of the Count! Think of him who 
has had so much sorrow all his days. No, I don't want 
to stay in this house any longer ! And to think of it being 
with such as you! If it had been the Lieutenant — 
... I have never lowered my position. Let any one 
say, if they can, that the Count's cook has had anything 
to do with the riding master or the swineherd. Let them 
come and say it! 

Such dignity and morality are indeed pathetic, 
because they indicate how completely serfdom 
may annihilate even the longing for something 
higher and better in the breast of a human being. 
The Kristins represent the greatest obstacle to 
social growth, the deadlock in the conflict between 
the classes. On the other hand, the Jeans, with 
all their longing for higher possibilities, often 
become brutalized in the hard school of life; 
though in the conflict with Julie, Jean shows bru- 
tality only at the critical moment, when it be- 

58 Strindberg 

comes a question of life and death, a moment 
that means discovery and consequent ruin, or 
safety for both. 

Jean, though the male is aroused in him, pleads 
with Julie not to play with fire, begs her to re- 
turn to her room, and not to give the servants a 
chance for gossip. And when later Jean suggests 
his room for a hiding place that Julie may escape 
the approaching merry-makers, it is to save her 
from their songs full of insinuation and ribaldry. 
Finally when the inevitable happens, when as a 
result of their closeness in Jean^s room, of their 
overwrought nerves, their intense passion, the 
avalanche of sex sweeps them off their feet, for- 
getful of station, birth and conventions, and they 
return to the kitchen, it is again Jean who is will- 
ing to bear his share of the responsibility. " I 
don't care to shirk my share of the blame," he tells 
Julie, " but do you think any one of my position 
would have dared to raise his eyes to you if you 
had not invited it? " 

There is more truth in this statement than the 
Julies can grasp, namely, that even servants have 
their passions and feelings that cannot long be 
trifled with, with impunity. The Jeans know 
" that it is the glitter of brass, not gold, that 
dazzles us from below, and that the eagle's back 
is gray like the rest of him." For Jean says, 
" I'm sorry to have to realize that all that I have 

Countess Julie 59 

looked up to is not worth while, and it pains me 
to see you fallen lower than your cook, as it pains 
me to see autumn blossoms whipped to pieces by 
the cold rain and transformed into — dirt ! " 

It is this force that helps to transform the blos- 
som into dirt that August Strindberg emphasizes 
in '* The Father." For the child born against 
the will of its parents must also be without will, 
and too weak to bear the stress and storm of life. 
In " Countess Julie " this idea recurs with even 
more tragic effect. Julie, too, had been brought 
into the world against her mother's wishes. In- 
deed, so much did her mother dread the thought 
of a child that she ** was always ill, she often 
had cramps and acted queerly, often hiding in the 
orchard or the attic." Added to this horror was 
the conflict, the relentless war of traditions be- 
tween Juliets aristocratic father and her mother 
descended from the people. This was the 
heritage of the innocent victim, Julie — an au- 
tumn blossom blown into fragments by lack of 
stability, lack of love and lack of harmony. In 
other words, while Julie is broken and weakened 
by her inheritance and environment, Jean is hard- 
ened by his. 

When Jean kills the bird which Julie wants to 
rescue from the ruins of her life, it is not so much 
out of real cruelty, as it is because the character 

6o Strindberg 

of Jean was molded in the relentless school 
of necessity, in which only those survive who have 
the determination to act in time of danger. For 
as Jean says, " Miss Julie, I see that you are un- 
happy, I know that you are suffering, but I cannot 
understand you. Among my kind there is no non- 
sense of this sort. We love as we play — when 
work gives us time. We haven't the whole day 
and night for it as you." 

Here we have the key to the psychology of 
the utter helplessness and weakness of the Julie 
type, and of the brutality of the Jeans. The one, 
the result of an empty life, of parasitic leisure, of 
a useless, purposeless existence. The other, the 
effect of too little time for development, for ma- 
turity and depth; of too much toil to permit the 
growth of the finer traits in the human soul. 

August Strindberg, himself the result of the 
class conflict between his parents, never felt at 
home with either of them. All his life he was 
galled by the irreconcilability of the classes; and 
though he was no sermonizer in the sense of offer- 
ing a definite panacea for individual or social ills, 
yet with master touch he painted the degrading 
effects of class distinction and its tragic antago- 
nisms. In " Countess Julie " he popularized one 
of the most vital problems of our age, and gave 
to the world a work powerful in its grasp of ele- 
mental emotions, laying bare the human soul be- 

Comrades * 6i 

hind the mask of social tradition and class 


Although " Comrades " was written in 1888, 
It is in a measure the most up-to-date play of 
Strindberg, — so thoroughly modern that one at 
all conversant with the milieu that inspired " Com- 
rades " could easily point out the type of character 
portrayed in the play. 

It is a four-act comedy of marriage — the kind 
of marriage that lacks social and legal security in 
the form of a ceremony, but retains all the petty 
conventions of the marriage institution. The re- 
sults of such an anomaly are indeed ludicrous when 
viewed from a distance, but very tragic for those 
who play a part in it. 

Axel Alberg and his wife Bertha are Swedish 
artists residing in Paris. They are both painters. 
Of course they share the same living quarters, and 
although each has a separate room, the arrange- 
ment does not hinder them from trying to regulate 
each other's movements. Thus when Bertha does 
not arrive on time to keep her engagement with 
her model. Axel is provoked; and when he takes 
the liberty to chide her for her tardiness, his wife 
is indignant at the " invasiveness " of her husband, 
because women of the type of Bertha are as sensi- 

62 Strindberg 

tive to fair criticism as their ultra-conservative 
sisters. Nor is Bertha different in her concept of 
love, which is expressed in the following dialogue : 

Bertha. Will you be very good, very, very good? 
Axel. I always want to be good to you, my friend. 

Bertha, who has sent her painting to the exhibi- 
tion, wants to make use of Axel's " goodness " 
to secure the grace of one of the art jurors. 

Bertha. You would not make a sacrifice for your 
wife, would you? 

Jxel. Go begging? No, I don't want to do that 

Bertha immediately concludes that he does not 
love her and that, moreover, he is jealous of her 
art. There is a scene. 

Bertha soon recovers. But bent on gaining her 
purpose, she changes her manner. 

Bertha. Axel, let's be friends! And hear me a 
moment. Do you think that my position in your house 
— for It is yours — is agreeable to me? You support 
me, you pay for my studying at Julian's, while you your- 
self cannot afford instruction. Don't you think I see 
how you sit and wear out yourself and your talent on 
these pot-boiling drawings, and are able to paint only in 
leisure moments? You haven't been able to aflord 
models for yourself, while you pay mine five hard-earned 
francs an hour. You don't know how good — how 
noble — how sacrificing you are, and also you don't 
know how I suffer to see you toil so for me. Oh, Axel, 
you can't know how I feel my position. What am I to 

Comrades 63 

you? Of what use am I in your house? Oh, I blush 
when I think about it! 

Axel. What talk! Isn't a man to support his wife? 

Bertha. I don't want it. And you, Axel, you must 
help me. Tm not your equal when it's like that, but I 
could be if you would humble yourself once, just once! 
Don't think that you are alone in going to one of the 
jury to say a good word for another. If it were for 
yourself, it would be another matter, but for me — 
Forgive me ! Now I beg of you as nicely as I know how. 
Lift me from my humiliating position to your side, and 
I'll be so grateful I shall never trouble you again with 
reminding you of my position. Never, Axel! 

Yet though Bertha gracefully accepts everything 
Axel does for her, with as little compunction as 
the ordinary wife, she does not give as much in re- 
turn as the latter. On the contrary, she exploits 
Axel in a thousand ways, squanders his hard- 
earned money, and lives the life of the typical 
wifely parasite. 

August Strindberg could not help attacking with 
much bitterness such a farce and outrage parading 
in the disguise of radicalism. For Bertha is not 
an exceptional, isolated case. To-day, as when 
Strindberg satirized the all-too-feminine, the ma- 
jority of so-called emancipated women are willing 
to accept, like Bertha, everything from the man, 
and yet feel highly indignant if he asks in return 
the simple comforts of married life. The ordi- 

64 Strindberg 

nary wife, at least, does not pretend to play an im- 
portant role in the life of her husband. But the 
Berthas deceive themselves and others with the no- 
tion that the '* emancipated " wife is a great moral 
force, an inspiration to the man. Whereas in 
reality she is often a cold-blooded exploiter of the 
work and ideas of the man, a heavy handicap to his 
life-purpose, retarding his growth as effectively as 
did her grandmothers in the long ago. Bertha 
takes advantage of AxeVs affection to further her 
own artistic ambitions, just as the Church and 
State married woman uses her husband's love to 
advance her social ambitions. It never occurs to 
Bertha that she is no less despicable than her le- 
gally married sister. She cannot understand 
AxeVs opposition to an art that clamors only for 
approval, distinction and decorations. 

However, Axel can not resist Bertha^s plead- 
ings. He visits the patron saint of the salon, who, 
by the way, is not M. Roubey, but Mme. Roubey; 
for she is the " President of the Woman-Painter 
Protective Society." What chance would Berlha 
have with one of her own sex in authority? 
Hence her husband must be victimized. During 
Axel's absence Bertha learns that his picture has 
been refused by the salon, while hers is accepted. 
She is not in the least disturbed, nor at all con- 
cerned over the effect of the news on AxeL On 
the contrary, she is rather pleased because " so 

Comrades 65 

many women are refused that a man might put up 
with it, and be made to feel it once." 

In her triumph Bertha's attitude to Axel be- 
comes overbearing; she humiliates him, belittles 
his art, and even plans to humble him before the 
guests invited to celebrate Bertha's artistic suc- 

But Axel is tearing himself free from the meshes 
of his decaying love. He begins to see Bertha as 
she is : her unscrupulousness in money matters, her 
ceaseless effort to emasculate him. In a terrible 
word tussle he tells her: ** I had once been free, 
but you clipped the hair of my strength while my 
tired head lay in your lap. During sleep you stole 
my best blood." 

In the last act Bertha discovers that Axel had 
generously changed the numbers on the paintings 
in order to give her a better chance. It was his 
picture that was chosen as her work. She feels 
ashamed and humiliated; but it is too late. Axel 
leaves her with the exclamation, " I want to meet 
my comrades in the cafe, but at home I want a 

A characteristic sidelight in the play is given by 
the conversation of Mrs. Hall, the divorced wife 
of Doctor Ostermark. She comes to Bertha with 
a bitter tirade against the Doctor because he gives 
her insufficient alimony. 

66 Strindberg 

Mrs. Hall. And now that the girls are grown up 
and about to start in life, now he writes us that he is 
bankrupt and that he can't send us more than half the 
allowance. Isn't that nice, just now when the girls are 
grown up and are going out into life? 

Bertha. We must look into this. Hell be here in a 
few days. Do you know that you have the law on your 
side and that the courts can force him to pay? And he 
shall be forced to do so. Do you understand? So, he 
can bring children into the world and then leave them 
empty-handed with the poor deserted mother. 

Bertha, who believes in woman's equality with 
man, and in her economic independence, yet de- 
livers herself of the old sentimental gush in be- 
half of ** the poor deserted mother," who has been 
supported by her husband for years, though their 
relations had ceased long before. 

A distorted picture, some feminists will say. 
Not at all. It is as typical to-day as it was twenty- 
six years ago. Even to-day some " emancipated " 
women claim the right to be self-supporting, yet 
demand their husband's support. In fact, many 
leaders in the American suffrage movement assure 
us that when women will make laws, they will force 
men to support their wives. From the leaders 
down to the simplest devotee, the same attitude 
prevails, namely, that man is a blagueur, and that 
but for him the Berthas would have long ago be- 

Comrades 67 

come Michelangelos, Beethovens, or Shakes- 
peares; they claim that the Berthas represent the 
most virtuous half of the race, and that they have 
made up their minds to make man as virtuous as 
they are. 

That such ridiculous extravagance should be re- 
sented by the Axels is not at all surprising. It is 
resented even by the more intelligent of Bertha's 
own sex. Not because they are opposed to the 
emancipation of woman, but because they do not 
believe that her emancipation can ever be achieved 
by such absurd and hysterical notions. They re- 
pudiate the idea that people who retain the sub- 
stance of their slavery and merely escape the 
shadow, can possibly be free, live free, or act free. 

The radicals, no less than the feminists, must 
realize that a mere external change in their eco- 
nomic and political status, cannot alter the inher- 
ent or acquired prejudices and superstitions which 
underlie their slavery and dependence, and which 
are the main causes of the antagonism between the 

The transition period is indeed a most difficult 
and perilous stage for the woman as well as for the 
man. It requires a powerful light to guide us 
past the dangerous reefs and rocks in the ocean of 
life. August Strindberg is such a light. Some- 
times glaring, ofttimes scorching, but always bene- 
ficially illuminating the path for those who walk 

68 Strindberg 

in darkness, for the blind ones who would rather 
deceive and be deceived than look into the recesses 
of their being. Therefore August Strindberg is 
not only " the spiritual conscience of Sweden," as 
he has been called, but the spiritual conscience of 
the whole human family, and, as such, a most vital 
revolutionary factor. 



IT has been said that military conquest gen- 
erally goes hand in hand with the decline 
of creative genius, with the retrogression 
of culture. I believe this is not a mere 
assertion. The history of the human race re- 
peatedly demonstrates that whenever a nation 
achieved great military success, it invariably in- 
volved the decline of art, of literature, of the 
drama; in short, of culture in the deepest and 
finest sense. This has been particularly borne out 
by Germany after its military triumph in the 
Franco-Prussian War. 

For almost twenty years after that war, the 
country of poets and thinkers remained. Intellectu- 
ally, a veritable desert, barren of ideas. Young 
Germany had to go for its intellectual food to 
France, — Daudet, Maupassant, and Zola; or to 
Russia — Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostdyevski; 
finally also to Ibsen and Strindberg. Nothing 
thrived In Germany during that period, except a 
sickening patriotism and sentimental romanticism, 
perniciously misleading the people and giving 


70 Hermann Sudermann 

them no adequate outlook upon life and the social 
struggle. Perhaps that accounts for the popular 
vogue of Hermann Sudermann: it may explain 
why he was received by the young generation with 
open arms and acclaimed a great artist. 

It is not my intention to discuss Hermann Suder- 
mann as an artist or to consider him from the 
point of view of the technic of the drama. I in- 
tend to deal with him as the first German drama- 
tist to treat social topics and discuss the pressing 
questions of the day. From this point of view 
Hermann Sudermann may be regarded as the pio- 
neer of a new era in the German drama. Pri- 
marily is this true of the three plays " Honor," 
** Magda," and " The Fires of St. John." In 
these dramas Hermann Sudermann, while not 
delving deeply into the causes of the social con- 
flicts, nevertheless touches upon many vital sub- 

In " Honor " the author demolishes the super- 
ficial, sentimental conception of " honor " that is 
a purely external manifestation, having no roots 
in the life, the habits, or the customs of the people. 
He exposes the stupidity of the notion that be- 
cause a man looks askance at you, or fails to pay 
respect to your uniform, you must challenge him 
to a duel and shoot him dead. In this play Suder- 
mann shows that the conception of honor is noth- 
ing fixed or permanent, but that it varies with 

Mag da 71 

economic and social status, different races, peo- 
ples and times holding different ideas of it. With 
" Honor " Sudermann succeeded in undermining 
to a considerable extent the stupid and ridiculous 
notion of the Germans ruled by the rod and the 
Kaiser's coat. 

But I particularly wish to consider " Magda," 
because, of all the plays written by Hermann 
Sudermann, it is the most revolutionary and 
the least national. It deals with a universal sub- 
ject, — the awakening of woman. It is revo- 
lutionary, not because Sudermann was the first to 
treat this subject, for Ibsen had preceded him, but 
because in ** Magda " he was the first to raise the 
question of woman's right to motherhood with or 
without the sanction of State and Church. 


Lieutenant Colonel Schwartze, Magda's 
father, represents all the conventional and con- 
servative notions of society. 

Schwartze. Modern Ideas! Oh, pshaw! I know 
them. But come into the quiet homes where are bred 
brave soldiers and virtuous wives. There you'll hear no 
talk about heredity, no arguments about individuality, no 
scandalous gossip. There modern ideas have no foot- 
hold, for it IS there that the life and strength of the 
Fatherland abide. Look at this home! There is no 
luxury, — hardly even what you call good taste, — faded 

72 Hermann Sudermann 

nigs, birchen chairs, old pictures; and yet when you see 
the beams of the western sun pour through the white 
curtains and He with such a loving touch on the old room, 
does not something say to you, " Here dwells true hap- 
pmess r 

The Colonel is a rigid military man. He is 
utterly blind to the modern conception of woman's 
place in life. He rules his family as the Kaiser 
rules the nation, with severe discipline, with ter- 
rorism and depotism. He chooses the man whom 
Magda is to marry, and when she refuses to ac- 
cept his choice, he drives her out of the house. 

At the age of eighteen Magda goes out into 
the world yearning for development; she longs 
for artistic expression and economic independence. 
Seventeen years later she returns to her native 
town, a celebrated singer. As Madelene dell' 
Orto she is invited to sing at the town's charity 
bazaar, and is acclaimed, after the performance, 
one of the greatest stars of the country. 

Magda has not forgotten her home; especially 
does she long to see her father whom she loves 
passionately, and her sister, whom she had left 
a little child of eight After the concert Magda, 
the renowned artist, steals away from her admir- 
ers, with their flowers and presents, and goes out 
into the darkness of the night to catch a glimpse, 
through the window at least, of her father and her 
little sister. 

Magda 73 

Magda^s father is scandalized at her mode of 
life: what will people say if the daughter of the 
distinguished officer stops at a hotel, associates 
with men without a chaperon, and is wined and 
dined away from her home? Magda is finally 
prevailed upon to remain with her parents. She 
consents on condition that they should not pry 
into her life, that they should not soil and be- 
smirch her innermost being. But that is expect- 
ing the impossible from a provincial environment. 
It is not that her people really question ; but they 
insinuate, they speak with looks and nods; burn- 
ing curiosity to unearth Magda' s life is in the very 

Schwartze. I implore you — Come here, my child — 
nearer — so — I implore you — let me be happy in my 
dying hour. Tell me that you have remained pure in 
body and soul, and then go with my blessing on your way. 

Magda, I have remained — true to myself, dear 

Schwartze. How? In good or in ill? 

Magda. In what — for me — was good. 

Schwartze, I love you with my whole heart, because 
I have sorrowed for you — so long. But I must know 
who you are. 

Among the townspeople who come to pay 
homage to Magda is Councillor von Keller. In 
his student days he belonged to the bohemian set 
and was full of advanced ideas. At that period 

74 Hermann Sudermann 

he met Magda, young, beautiful, and inexperi- 
enced. A love affair developed. But when Von 
Keller finished his studies, he went home to the 
fold of his family, and forgot his sweetheart 
Magda. In due course he became an important 
pillar of society, a very influential citizen, admired, 
respected, and feared in the community. 

When Magda returns home. Von Keller comes 
to pay her his respects. But she is no longer the 
insignificant little girl he had known; she is now 
a celebrity. What pillar of society is averse to 
basking in the glow of celebrities? Von Keller 
offers flowers and admiration. But Magda dis- 
covers in him the man who had robbed her of her 
faith and trust, — the father of her child. 

Magda has become purified by her bitter strug- 
gle. It made her finer and bigger. She does not 
even reproach the man, because — 

Magda, I've painted this meeting to myself a thou- 
sand times, and have been prepared for it for years. 
Something warned me, too, when I undertook this 
journey home — though I must say I hardly expected 
just here to — Yes, how is it that, after what has 
passed between us, you came into this house? It seems 
to me a little — ... I can see it all. The effort to 
keep worthy of respect under such difficulties, with a bad 
conscience, is awkward. You look down from the 
height of your pure atmosphere on your sinful youth, — 
for you are called a pillar, my dear friend. 

Magda 75 

Von Keller. Well, I felt myself called to higher 
things. I thought — Why should I undervalue my posi- 
tion? I have become Councillor, and that comparatively 
young. An ordinary ambition might take satisfaction in 
that. But one sits and waits at home, while others are 
called to the ministry. And this environment, conven- 
tionality, and narrowness, all is so gray, — gray! And 
the ladies here — for one who cares at all about elegance 
— I assure you something rejoiced within me when I 
read this morning that you were the famous singer, — 
you to whom I was tied by so many dear memories 
and — 

Magda. And then you thought whether it might not 
be possible with the help of these dear memories to bring 
a little color into the gray background? 

Von Keller. Oh, pray don't — 

Magda. Well, between old friends — 

Von Keller. Really, are we that, really? 

Magda. Certainly, sans rancune. Oh, if I took it 
from the other standpoint, I should have to range the 
whole gamut, — liar, coward, traitor! But as I look at 
it, I owe you nothing but thanks, my friend. 

Von Keller. This is a view which — 

Magda. Which is very convenient for you. But 
why should I not make it convenient for you? In the 
manner in which we met, you had no obligations towards 
me. I had left my home; I was young and innocent, 
hot-blooded and careless, and I lived as I saw others live. 
I gave myself to you because I loved you. I might per- 
haps have loved anyone who came in my way. That — 
that seemed to be all over. And we were so happy, — 

76 Hermann Sudermann 

weren't we? . . . Yes, we were a merry set; and when 
the fun had lasted half a year, one day my lover van- 

Von Keller. An unlucky chance, I swear to you. My 
father was ill. I had to travel. I wrote everything to 

Magda. H'm! I didn't reproach you. And now I 
will tell you why I owe you thanks. I was a stupid, un- 
suspecting thing, enjoying freedom like a runaway mon- 
keyl Through you I became a woman. For whatever 
I have done in my art, for whatever I have become in 
myself, I have you to thank. My soul was like — yes, 
down below there, there used to be an -^olian harp 
which was left moldering because my father could not 
bear it. Such a silent harp was my soul; and through 
you it was given to the storm. And it sounded almost 
to breaking, — the whole scale of passions which bring us 
women to maturity, — love and hate and revenge and 
ambition, and need, need, need, — three times need — 
and the highest, the strongest, the holiest of all, the 
mother's love! — All I owe to you! 

Von Keller. My child! 

Magda. Your child? Who calls it so? Yours? 
Ha, ha! Dare to claim portion in him and 111 kill you 
with these hands. Who are you? You're a strange 
man who gratified his lust and passed on with a laugh. 
But I have a child, — my son, my God, my all ! For him 
I lived and starved and froze and walked the streets; 
for him I sang and danced in concert-halls, — for my child 
who was crying for his bread! 

Magda 77 

Von Keller. For Heaven's sake, hush! someone's 

Magda, Let them come! Let them all come! I 
don't care, I don't care! To their faces I'll say what I 
think of you, — of you and your respectable society. 
Why should I be worse than you, that I must prolong 
my existence among you by a lie! Why should this 
gold upon my body, and the lustre which surrounds my 
name, only increase my infamy? Have I not worked 
early and late for ten long years ? Have I not woven this 
dress with sleepless nights? Have I not built up my 
career step by step, like thousands of my kind? Why 
should I blush before anyone? I am myself, and through 
myself I have become what I am. 

Magda' s father learns about the affair and im- 
mediately demands that the Councillor marry his 
daughter, or fight a duel. Magda resents the 
preposterous idea. Von Keller is indeed glad to 
offer Magda his hand in marriage : she is so beau-, 
tiful and fascinating; she will prove a great asset 
to his ambitions. But he stipulates that she give 
up her profession of singer, and that the existence 
of the child be kept secret. He tells Magda that 
later on, when they are happily married and firmly 
established in the world, they will bring their 
child to their home and adopt it; but for the pres- 
ent respectability must not know that it is theirs, 
born out of wedlock, without the sanction of the 
Church and the State. 

78 Hermann Sudermann 

That is more than Magda can endure. She is 
outraged that she, the mother, who had given up 
everything for the sake of her child, who had 
slaved, struggled and drudged in order to win a 
career and economic independence — all for the 
sake of the child — that she should forswear her 
right to motherhood, her right to be true to her- 
self 1 

Magda. What — what do you say? 

Von Keller. Why, it would ruin us. No, no, it is 
absurd to think of it. But we can make a little journey 
every year to wherever it is being educated. One can 
register under a false name; that is not unusual in for- 
eign parts, and is hardly criminal. And when we arc 
fifty years old, and other regular conditions have been 
fulfilled, that can be arranged, can't it? Then we can, 
under some pretext, adopt it, can't we? 

Magda. I have humbled myself, I have surrendered 
my judgment, I have let myself be carried like a lamb to 
the slaughter. But my child I will not leave. Give up 
my child to save his career! 

Magda orders Von Keller out of the house. 
But the old Colonel is unbending. He insists that 
his daughter become an honorable woman by 
marrying the man who had seduced her. Her 
refusal fires his wrath to wild rage. 

Schwartze. Either you swear to me now . . . that 
you will become the honorable wife of your child's father, 
or — neither of us two shall go out of this room alive. 

Magda 79 

. . . You think . . . because you are free and a great 
artist, that you can set at naught — 

Magda* Leave art out of the question. Consider me 
nothing more than the seamstress or the servant-maid 
who seeks, among strangers, the little food and the little 
love she needs. See how much the family with its 
morality demand from us! It throws us on our own re- 
sources, it gives us neither shelter nor happiness, and yet, 
in our loneliness, we must live according to the laws 
which It has planned for itself alone. We must still 
crouch in the corner, and there wait patiently until a re- 
spectful wooer happens to come. Yes, wait. And mean- 
while the war for existence of body and soul is consum- 
ing us. Ahead we see nothing but sorrow and despair, 
and yet shall we not once dare to give what we have of 
youth and strength to the man for whom our whole being 
cries? Gag us, stupefy us, shut us up in harems or in 
cloisters — and that perhaps would be best. But if you 
give us our freedom, do not wonder if we take advantage 
of it. 

But morality and the family never understand 
the Magdas. Least of all does the old Colonel 
understand his daughter. Rigid in his false no- 
tions and superstitions, wrought up with distress, 
he is about to carry out his threat, when a stroke 
of apoplexy overtakes him. 

In " Magda," Hermann Sudermann has 
given to the world a new picture of modern wo- 
manhood, a type of free motherhood. As such 
the play is of great revolutionary significance, not 

8o Hermann Sudermann 

alone to Germany, but to the universal spirit of 
a newer day. 


In " The Fires of St. John," Sudermann does 
not go as far as in ** Magda.'* Nevertheless the 
play deals with important truths. Life does not 
always draw the same conclusions; life is not al- 
ways logical, not always consistent. The function 
of the artist is to portray Life — only thus can he 
be true both to art and to life. 

In this drama we witness the bondage of grati- 
tude, — one of the most enslaving and paralyzing 
factors. Mr. Brauer, a landed proprietor, has a 
child, Gertrude, a beautiful girl, who has always 
lived the sheltered life of a hothouse plant. The 
Brauers also have an adopted daughter, Marie, 
whom they had picked up on the road, while travel- 
ing on a stormy night. They called her " the 
calamity child," because a great misfortune had 
befallen them shortly before. Mr. Brauer's 
younger brother, confronted with heavy losses, had 
shot himself, leaving behind his son George and a 
heavily mortgaged estate. The finding of the 
baby, under these circumstances, was considered 
by the Brauers an omen. They adopted it and 
brought it up as their own. 

This involved the forcible separation of Marie 

The Fires of St. John 8r 

from her gypsy mother, who was a pariah, an out- 
cast beggar. She drank and stole in order to sub- 
sist. But with it all, her mother instinct was 
strong and it always drove her back to the place 
where her child lived. Marie had her first shock 
when, on her way home from confirmation, the 
ragged and brutalized woman threw herself be- 
fore the young girl, crying, " Mamie, my child, my 
Mamie 1 " It was then that Marie realized her 
origin. Out of gratitude she consecrated her life 
to the Brauers. 

Marie never forgot for a moment that she owed 
everything — her education, her support and hap- 
piness — to her adopted parents. She wrapped 
herself around them with all the intensity and pas- 
sion of her nature. She became the very spirit of 
the house. She looked after the estate, and de- 
voted herself to little Gertrude, as to her own sis- 

Gertrude is engaged to marry her cousin 
George, and everything is beautiful and joyous in 
the household. No one suspects that Marie has 
been in love with the young man ever since her 
childhood. However, because of her gratitude to 
her benefactors, she stifles her nature, hardens her 
heart, and locks her feelings behind closed doors, 
as It were. And when Gertrude is about to marry 
George, Marie throws herself into the work of fix- 
ing up a home for the young people, to surround 

82 Hermann Sudermann 

them with sunshine and joy in their new love life. 

Accidentally Marie discovers a manuscript writ- 
ten by George, wherein he discloses his deep love 
for her. She learns that he, even as she, has no 
other thought, no other purpose in life than his 
love for her. But he also is bound by gratitude 
for his uncle Brauer who had saved the honor of 
his father and had rescued him from poverty. 
He feels it dishonorable to refuse to marry Ger- 

George. All these years I have struggled and de- 
prived myself with only one thing in view — to be free — 
free — and yet I must bow — I must bow. If it were 
not for the sake of this beautiful child, who is innocent 
of It all, I would be tempted to — But the die is cast, 
the yoke is ready — and so am I! ... I, too, am a 
child of misery, a calamity child; but I am a subject of 
charity. I accept all they have to give. . . . Was I not 
picked up from the street, as my uncle so kindly informed 
me for the second time — like yourself? Do I not be- 
long to this house, and am I not smothered with the 
damnable charity of my benefactors, like yourself? 

It is St. John's night. The entire family is 
gathered on the estate of the Brauers, while the 
peasants are making merry with song and dance at 
the lighted bonfires. 

It is a glorious, dreamy night, suggestive of 
symbolic meaning. According to the servant 
Katie, it is written that " whoever shall give or re- 

The Fires of St. John 83 

ceive their first kiss on St. John's eve, their 
love is sealed and they will be faithful unto 

In the opinion of the Pastor, St. John's night 
represents a religious phase, too holy for flippant 
pagan joy. 

Pastor. On such a dreamy night, different emotions 
are aroused within us. We seem to be able to look into 
the future, and imagine ourselves able to fathom all mys- 
tery and heal all wounds. The common becomes ele- 
vated, our wishes become fate; and now we ask our- 
selves: What is it that causes all this within us — all 
these desires and wishes? It is love, brotherly love, that 
has been planted in our souls, that fills our lives: and, it 
IS life Itself. Am I not right? And now, with one 
bound, I will come to the point. In the revelation you 
will find : " God is love." Yes, God is love ; and that 
is the most beautiful trait of our religion — that the 
best, the most beautiful within us, has been granted us 
by Him above. Then how could I, this very evening, 
so overcome with feeling for my fellow-man — how could 
I pass Him by? Therefore, Mr. Brauer, no matter, 
whether pastor or layman, I must confess my inability 
to grant your wish, and decline to give you a genuine 
pagan toast — 

But Christian sjmibolism having mostly de- 
scended from primitive pagan custom, George's 
view is perhaps the most significant. 

George. Since the Pastor has so cloquendy with- 

84 Hermann Sudermann 

drawn, I will give you a toast. For, you see, my dear 
Pastor, something of the old pagan, a spark of heathen- 
ism, is still glowing somewhere within us all. It has 
outlived century after century, from the time of the old 
Teutons. Once every year that spark is fanned into 
flame — it flames up high, and then it is called " The 
Fires of St. John." Once every year we have " free 
night." Then the witches ride upon their brooms — 
the same brooms with which their witchcraft was once 
driven out of them — with scornful laughter the wild 
hordes sweep across the tree-tops, up, up, high upon the 
BlocksbergI Then it is, when in our hearts awake those 
wild desires which our fates could not fulfill — 
and, understand me well, dared not fulfill — then, 
no matter what may be the name of the law that governs 
the world on that day, in order that one single wish may 
become a reality, by whose grace we prolong our miser- 
able existence, thousand others must miserably perish, 
part because they were never attainable; but the others, 
yes, the others, because we allowed them to escape us 
like wild birds, which, though already in our hands, but 
too listless to profit by opportunity, we failed to grasp 
at the right moment. But no matter. Once every year 
we have " free night." And yonder tongues of fire 
shooting up towards the heavens — do you know what 
they are? They are the spirits of our dead perished 
wishes! That is the red plumage of our birds of para- 
dise we might have petted and nursed through our entire 
lives, but have escaped us! That is the old chaos, the 
heathenism within us; and though we be happy in sun- 
shine and according to law, to-night is St. John's night. 

The Fires of St. John 85 

To Its ancient pagan fires I empty this glass. To-night 
they shall burn and flame up high — high and again 

George and Marie meet. They, too, have had 
their instinct locked away even from their own 
consciousness. And on this night they break loose 
with tremendous, primitive force. They are 
driven into each other's arms because they feel 
that they belong to each other ; they know that if 
they had the strength they could take each other by 
the hand, face their benefactor and tell him the 
truth : tell him. that it would be an unpardonable 
crime for George to marry Gertrude when he 
loves another woman. 

Now they all but find courage and strength for 
it, when the pitiful plaint reaches them, " Oh, 
mine Mamie, mine daughter, mine child." And 
Marie is cast down from the sublime height of her 
love and passion, down to the realization that she 
also, like her pariah mother, must go out into the 
world to struggle, to fight, to become free from 
the bondage of gratitude, of charity and depend- 

Not so George. He goes to the altar, like 
many another man, with a lie upon his lips. He 
goes to swear that all his life long he will love, 
protect and shelter the woman who is to be his 

86 Hermann Sudermann 

This play is rich in thought and revolutionary 
significance. For is it not true that we are all 
bound by gratitude, tied and fettered by what we 
think we owe to others ? Are we not thus turned 
into weaklings and cowards, and do we not enter 
into new relationships with lies upon our lips? 
Do we not become a lie to ourselves and a lie to 
those we associate with? And whether we have 
the strength to be true to the dominant spirit, 
warmed into being by the fires of St. John; 
whether we have the courage to live up to it al- 
ways or whether it manifests itself only on oc- 
casion, it is nevertheless true that there is the po- 
tentiality of freedom in the soul of every man and 
every woman; that there is the possibility of great- 
ness and fineness in all beings, were they not bound 
and gagged by gratitude, by duty and shams, — a 
vicious network that enmeshes body and soul. 



dramatist of whom it may be justly said 
that he revolutionized the spirit of dram- 
atic art in Germany : the last Mohican of 
a group of four — Ibsen, Strindberg, Tolstoy, and 
Hauptmann — who illumined the horizon of the 
nineteenth century. Of these Hauptmann, un- 
doubtedly the most human, is also the most uni- 

It is unnecessary to make comparisons between 
great artists: life is sufficiently complex to give 
each his place in the great scheme of things. If, 
then, I consider Hauptmann more human, it is 
because of his deep kinship with every stratum of 
life. While Ibsen deals exclusively with o«^ at- 
titude, Hauptmann embraces all, understands all, 
and portrays all, because nothing human is alien 
to him. 

Whether it be the struggle of the transition 
stage in ** Lonely Lives," or the conflict between 
the Ideal and the Real in '* The Sunken Bell," or 


88 Gerhart Hauptmann 

the brutal background of poverty in " The 
Weavers," Hauptmann is never aloof as the icono- 
clast Ibsen, never as bitter as the soul dissector 
Strindberg, nor yet as set as the crusader Tolstoy. 
And that because of his humanity, his boundless 
love, his oneness with the disinherited of the 
earth, and his sympathy with the struggles and 
the travail, the hope and the despair of every 
human soul. That accounts for the bitter opposi- 
tion which met Gerhart Hauptmann when he made 
his first appearance as a dramatist; but it also 
accounts for the love and devotion of those to 
whom he was a battle cry, a clarion call against 
all iniquity, injustice and wrong. 

In " ^onelyJLives " we see the wonderful sym- 
pathy, the tenderness of Hauptmann permeating 
every figure of the drama. 

Dr. Vockerat is not a fighter, not a propagand- 
ist or a soap-box orator; he is a dreamer, a poet, 
and above all a searcher for truth; a scientist, a 
man who lives in the realm of thought and ideas, 
and is out of touch with reality and his immediate 

His parents are simple folk, religious and de- 
voted. To them the world is a book with seven 
seals. Having lived all their life on a farm, 
everything with them is regulated and classified 
into simple ideas : — good or bad, great or small, 
strong or weak. How can they know the infinite 

Lonely Lives 89 

shades between strong and weak, how could they 
grasp the endless variations between the good and 
the bad ? To them life is a daily routine of work 
and prayer. God has arranged everything, and 
God manages everything. Why bother your 
head? Why spend sleepless nights? " Leave it 
all Jo God." What pathos in this childish sim- 
plicity 1 

They love their son John, they worship him, 
and they consecrate their lives to their only boy; 
and because of their love for him, also to his wife 
and the newly born baby. They have but one 
sorrow: their son has turned away from religion. 
Still greater their grief that John is an admirer of 
Darwin, Spencer and Haeckel and other such 
men,- sinners, heathens" all, who will burn in 
purgatory and hell. To protect their beloved 
son from the punishment of God, the old folks 
continuously pray, and give still more devotion 
and love to their erring child. 

Ki ^ty, Dr. Vockerafs wife, is a beautiful type 
of the Gretchen, reared without any ideas about 
life, without any consciousness of her position in 
the world, a tender, helpless flower. She loves 
John; he is her ideal; he is her all. But she 
cannot understand him. She does not live in his 
sphere, nor speak his language. She has never 
dreamed his thoughts, — not because she is not 
willing or not eager to give the man all that he 

90 Gerhart Hauptmann 

needs, but because she does not understand and 
does not know how. 

Into this atmosphere comes Anna Mahr like a 
breeze from the plains. Anna is a Russian girl, 
a woman so far produced in Russia only, perhaps 
because the conditions, the life struggles of that 
country have been such as to develop a different 
type of woman. Anna Mahr has spent most of 
her life on the firing line. She has no conception 
of the personal: she is universal in her feelings 
and thoughts, with deep sympathies going out in 
abundance to all mankind. 

When she comes to the Vockerats, their whole 
life is disturbed, especially that of John Fockerat, 
to whom she is like a balmy spring to the parched 
wanderer in the desert. She understands him, 
for has she not dreamed such thoughts as his, 
associated with men and women who, for the sake 
of the ideal, sacrificed their lives, went to Siberia, 
and suffered in the underground dungeons? 
How then could she fail a Vockerat? It is quite 
natural that John should find in Anna what his 
own little world could not give him, — understand- 
ing, comradeship, deep spiritual kinship. 

The Anna Mahrs give the same to any one, be 
It man, woman or child. For theirs is not a feel- 
ing of sex, of the personal; it is the selfless, the 
human, the all-embracing fellowship. 

In the invigorating presence of Anna Mahr, 

Lonely Lives 9 1' 

John Vockerat begins to live, to dream and work. 
Another phase of him, as it were, comes Into be- 
ing; larger vistas open before his eyes, and his 
life IS filled with new aspiration for creative work 
in behalf of a liberating purpose. 

Alas, the inevitability that the ideal should be 
besmirched and desecrated when it comes in con- 
tact with sordid reality 1 This tragic fate befalls 
Anna Mahr and John Vockerat. 

Old Mother Vockerat, who, in her simplicity 
of soul cannot conceive of an Intimate friendship 
between a man and a woman, unless they be hus- 
band and wife, begins first to suspect and Insinuate, 
then to nag and interfere. Of course, it is her 
love for John, and even more so her love for her 
son's wife, who is suffering in silence and wear- 
ing out her soul in her realization of how little she 
can mean to her husband. 

Moiher Vockerat interprets Kitty's grief in a 
different manner: jealousy, and antagonism to 
the successful rival is her most convenient explana- 
tion for the loneliness, the heart-hunger of love. 
But as a matter of fact, it is something deeper 
and more vital that is born in Kitty's soul. It is 
the awakening of her own womanhood, of her 

Kitty. I agree with Miss Mahr on many points. She 
was saying lately that we women live in a condition of 
degradation. I think she is quite right there. It is 

92 Gerhart Hauptmann 

what I feel very often. . . . It's as clear as daylight 
that she is right. We are really and- truly a despised and 
ill-used sex. Only think that there is still a law — so 
she told me yesterday — which allows the husband to 
inflict a moderate amount of corporal punishment on his 

And yet, corporal punishment is not half as 
terrible as the punishment society inflicts on the 
Kittys by rearing them as dependent and useless 
beings, as hot-house flowers, ornaments for a fine 
house, but of no substance to the husband and cer- 
tainly of less to her children. 

And Mother Vockerat, without any viciousness, 
instills poison into the innocent soul of Kitty and 
embitters the life of her loved son. Ignorantly, 
Mother Vockerat meddles, interferes, and tram- 
ples upon the most sacred feelings, the innocent 
joys of true comradeship. 

And all the time John and Anna are quite 
unaware of the pain and tragedy they are the 
cause of: they are far removed from the com- 
monplace, petty world about them. They walk 
and discuss, read and argue about the wonders of 
life, the needs of humanity, the beauty of the 
ideal. They have both been famished so long: 
John for spiritual communion, Anna for warmth 
of home that she had known so little before, and 
which In her simplicity she has accepted at the 
hand of Mother Vockerat and Kitty, oblivious of 

Lonely Lives 93 

the fact that nothing is so enslaving as hospitality 
prompted by a sense of duty. 

Mks Mahr, It is a great age that we live in. That 
which has so weighed upon people's minds and darkened 
their lives seems to me to be gradually disappearing. 
Do you not think so, Dr. Vockerat? 

John. How do you mean? 

Miss Mahr, On the one hand we were oppressed by 
a sense of uncertainty, of apprehension, on the other by 
gloomy fanaticism. This exaggerated tension is calming 
down, is yielding to the influence of something like a 
current of fresh air, that is blowing in upon us from — 
let us say from the twentieth century. 

John. But I don't find it possible to arrive at any 
real joy in life yet. I don't know. . . . 

Miss Mahr. It has no connection with our individual 
fates — our little fates, Dr. Vockerat! ... I have 
something to say to you — but you are not to get angry ; 
you are to be quite quiet and good. . . . Dr. Vockerat! 
we also are falling into the error of weak natures. We 
must look at things more impersonally. We must learn 
to take ourselves less seriously. 

John. But we'll not talk about that at present. . . . 
And is one really to sacrifice everything that one has 
gained to this cursed conventionality? Arc people in- 
capable of understanding that there can be no crime in a 
situation which only tends to make both parties better 
and nobler? Do parents lose by their son becoming a 
better, wiser man? Does a wife lose by the spiritual 
growth of her husband? 

Miss Mahr. You are both right and wrong. . . • 

94 Gerhart Hauptmann 

Your parents have a different standard from you. 
Kitty's again, differs from theirs. It seems to me that 
in this we cannot judge for them. 

John, Yes, but you have always said yourself that one 
should not allow one's self to be ruled by the opinion of 
others — that one ought to be independent? 

Miss Mahr, You have often said to me that you fore- 
see a new, a nobler state of fellowship between man and 

John, Yes, I feel that it will come some time — a 
relationship in which the human will preponderate over 
the animal tie. Animal will no longer be united to 
animal, but one human being to another. Friendship is 
the foundation on which this love will rise, beautiful, 
unchangeable, a miraculous structure. And I foresee 
more than this — something nobler, richer, freer still. 

Miss Mahr. But will you get anyone, except me, to 
believe this? Will this prevent Kitty's grieving herself 
to death? . . . Don't let us speak of ourselves at all. 
Let us suppose, quite generally, the feeling of a new, 
more perfect relationship between two people to exist, as 
it were prophetically. It is only a feeling, a young and 
all too tender plant which must be carefully watched and 
guarded. Don't you think so. Dr. Vockerat? That this 
plant should come to perfection during our lifetime is 
not to be expected. We shall not see or taste its fruits. 
But we may help to propagate it for future generations. 
I could imagine a person accepting this as a life-task. 

John, And hence you conclude that we must part. 

Miss Mahr, I did not mean to speak of ourselves. 
But it is as you say . • . we must part. Another idea 

Lonely Lives 95 

• • • had sometimes suggested itself to me too . . . 
momentarily. But I could not entertain it now. I too 
have felt as if it were the presentiment of better things. 
And since then the old aim seems to me too poor a one 
for us — too common, to tell the truth. It is like com- 
ing down from the mountain-top with its wide, free view, 
and feeling the narrowness, the nearness of everything in 
the valley. 

Those who feel the narrow, stifling atmosphere 
must either die or leave. Anna Mahr is not made 
for the valley. She must live on the heights. 
But John Vockerat, harassed and whipped on by 
those who love him most, is unmanned, broken 
and crushed. He clings to Anna Mahr as one 
condemned to death. 

John. Help me, Miss Anna! There is no manliness, 
no pride left in me. I am quite changed. At this 
moment I am not even the man I was before you came 
to us. The one feeling left in me is disgust and weari- 
ness of life. Everything has lost its worth to me, is 
soiled, polluted, desecrated, dragged through the mire. 
When I think what you, your presence, your words made 
me, I feel that if I cannot be that again, then — then all 
the rest no longer means anything to me. I draw a line 
through it all and — close my account. 

Miss Mahr. It grieves me terribly. Dr. Vockerat, to 
sec you like this. I hardly know how I am to help you. 
But one thing you ought to remember — that we fore- 
saw this. We knew that we must be prepared for this 
sooner or later. 

96 Gerhart Hauptmann 

John. Our prophetic feeling of a new, a free existence, 
a far-off state of blessedness — that feeling we will keep. 
It shall never be forgotten, though it may never be real- 
ized. It shall be my guiding light; when this light is 
extinguished, my life will be extinguished too. 

Miss Mahr. Johnl one word more! This ring — 
was taken from the finger of a dead woman, who had 
followed her — her husband to Siberia — and faithfully 
shared his suffering to the end. Just the opposite to our 
case. ... It is the only ring I have ever worn. Its 
story is a thing to think of when one feels weak. And 
when you look at it — in hours of weakness — then — 
think of her — who, far away — lonely like yourself — 
is fighting the same secret fight — Good-bye! 

But John lacks the strength for the fight. Life 
to him is too lonely, too empty, too unbearably 
desolate. He has to die — a suicide. 

What wonderful grasp of the deepest and most 
hidden tones of the human soul! What signif- 
icance in the bitter truth that those who struggle 
for an ideal, those who attempt to cut themselves 
loose from the old, from the thousand fetters 
that hold them down, are doomed to lonely 
lives ! 

Gerhart Hauptmann has dedicated this play 
** to those who have lived this life." And there 
are many, oh, so many who must live this life, 
torn out root and all from the soil of their birth, 
of their surroundings and past. Xhe ideal they 

Lonely Lives 97 

see only in the distance — sometimes quite near, 
again in the far-off distance. These are the lonely 

This drama also emphasizes the important 
point that not only the parents and the wife of 
John Vockerat fail to understand him, but even 
his own comrade, one of his own world, the 
painter Braun, — the type of fanatical revolution- 
ist who scorns human weaknesses and ridicules 
those who make concessions and compromises. 
But not even this arch-revolutionist can grasp the 
needs of John. Referring to his chum's friend- 
ship with Anna, Braun upbraids him. He 
charges John with causing his wife's unhappiness 
and hurting the feelings of his parents. This 
very man who, as a propagandist, demands that 
every one live up to his ideal, is quick to condemn 
his friend when the latter, for the first time in his 
life, tries to be consistent, to be true to his own 
innermost being. 

The revolutionary, the social and human sig- 
nificance of *' Lonely Lives " consists in the les- 
son that the real revolutionist, — the dreamer, the \ 
creative artist, the iconoclast in whatever line, — 
is fated to be misunderstood, not only by his own 
kin, but often by his own comrades. That is the 
doom of all great spirits: they are detached 
from their environment. Theirs is a lonely life 
— the life of the transition stage, the hardest and 

98 Gerhart Hauptmann 

the most difficult period for the individual as well 
as for a people. 


When " The Weaver s" first saw the light, 
pandemonium broke out in the '* land of thinkers 
and poets." **WhatI" cried Philistia, " work- 

\ ingmen, dirty, emaciated and starved, to be placed 
on the stage! Poverty, in all its ugliness, to be 
presented as an after-dinner amusement? That 

I is too much ! " 

Indeed it is too much for the self-satisfied 
bourgeoisie to be brought face to face with the 
horrors of the weaver's existence. It is too much, 
because of the truth and reality that thunders in 
the placid ears of society a terrific J*accuse/ 

Gerhart Hauptmann is a child of the people; 
his grandfather was a weaver, and the only way 
his father could escape the fate of his parents 
was by leaving his trade and opening an inn. 
Little Gerhart's vivid and impressionable mind 
must have received many pictures from the stories 
told about the life of the weavers. Who knows 
but that the social panorama which Hauptmann 
subsequently gave to the world, had not slum- 
bered in the soul of the child, gaining form and 
substance as he grew to manhood. At any rate 

The Weavers 99 

" The Weavers,'' like the canvases of Millet and 
the heroic figures of Meunier, represent the epic 
of the age-long misery of labor, a profoundly 
stirring picture. 

The background of " The Weavers '* is the 
weaving district in Silesia, during the period of 
home industry — a gruesome sight of human 
phantoms, dragging on their emaciated existence 
almost by superhuman effort. Life is a tenacious 
force that clings desperately even to the most 
meager chance in an endeavor to assert itself. 
But what is mirrored in " The Weavers " is so 
appalling, so dismally hopeless that it stamps the 
damning brand upon our civilization. 

One man and his hirelings thrive on the sinew 
and bone, on the very blood, of an entire com- 
munity. The manufacturer Dreissiger spends 
more for cigars in a day than an entire family^ 
earns in a week. Yet so brutalizing, so terrible 
is the effect of wealth that neither pale hunger 
nor black despair can move the master. 

There is nothing in literature to equal the cruel 
reality of the scene in the office of Dreissiger, 
when the weavers bring the finished cloth. For 
hours they are kept waiting in the stuffy place, 
waiting the pleasure of the rich employer after 
they had walked miles on an empty stomach and 
little sleep. For as one of the men says, " What's 

100 Gerhari Hauptmann 

to hinder a weaver waitin' for an hour, or for a 
day ? What else is he there for ? " 

Indeed what else, except to be always waiting 
in humility, to be exploited and degraded, always 
at the mercy of the few pence thrown to them 
after an endless wait. 

Necessity knows no law. Neither does it know 
pride. The weavers, driven by the whip of 
hunger, bend their backs, beg and cringe before 
their " superior." 

Weaver's wife. No one can't call me idle, but I am 
not fit now for what I once was. I've twice had a mis- 
carriage. As to John, he's but a poor creature. He's 
been to the shepherd at Zerlau, but he couldn't do him 
no good, and . . . you can't do more than you've strength 
for. . . . We works as hard as ever we can. This many 
a week I've been at it till far into the night. An' we'll 
keep our heads above water right enough if I can just 
get a bit o' strength into me. But you must have pity 
on us, Mr. Pfeifer, sir. You'll please be so very kind as 
to let me have a few pence on the next job, sir? Only 
a few pence, to buy bread with. We can't get no more 
credit. We've a lot o' little ones. 


" Suffer little children to come unto me." 
Christ loves the children of the poor. The more 
the better. Why, then, care if they starve? 
Why care if they faint away with hunger, like 
the little boy in Dreisstger^s office ? For " little 
Philip is one of nine and the tenth's coming, and 

The Weavers ipi 

the rain comes through their roof — and the 
mother hasn't two shirts among the nine." 

Who is to blame ? Ask the Dreissigers. They 
will tell you, " The poor have too many chil- 
dren." Besides — 

Dreissiger, It was nothing serious. The boy is all 
right again. But all the same it's a disgrace. The 
child's so weak that a puff of wind would blow him over. 
How people, how any parents can be so thoughtless is 
what passes my comprehension. Loading him with two 
heavy pieces of fustian to carry six good miles! No one 
would believe it that hadn't seen it. It simply means 
that I shall have to make a rule that no goods brought 
by children will be taken over. I sincerely trust that 
such things will not occur again. — Who gets all the 
blame for it? Why, of course the manufacturer. It's 
entirely our fault. If some poor little fellow sticks in 
the snow in winter and goes to sleep, a special correspond- 
ent arrives post-haste, and in two days we have a blood- 
curdling story served up in all the papers. Is any blame 
laid on the father, the parents, that send such a child ? — 
Not a bit of it. How should they be to blame? It's all 
the manufacturer's fault — he's made the scapegoat. 
They flatter the weaver, and give the manufacturer 
nothing but abuse — he's a cruel man, with a heart like 
a stone, a dangerous fellow, at whose calves every cur of 
a journalist may take a bite. He lives on the fat of the 
land, and pays the poor weavers starvation wages. In 
the flow of his eloquence the writer forgets to mention 
that such a man has his cares too and his sleepless nights; 

102 Gerhart Hauptmann 

that he runs risks of which the workman never dreams; 
that he is often driven distracted by all the calculations 
he has to make, and all tho. different things he has to take 
into account; that he has to struggle for his very life 
against competition ; and that no day passes without some 
annoyance or some loss. And think of the manufactur- 
er's responsibilities, think of the numbers that depend on 
him, that look to him for their daily bread. No, No! 
none of you need wish yourselves in my shoes — you 
would soon have enough of it. You all saw how that 
fellow, that scoundrel Becker, behaved. Now he*ll go 
and spread about all sorts of tales of my hardhearted- 
ness, of how my weavers are turned off for a mere trifle, 
without a moment's notice. Is that true? Am I so very 
unmerciful ? 

The weavers are too starved, too subdued, too 
terror-stricken not to accept Dreissiget^s plea 
in his own behalf. What would become of these 
] living corpses were it not for the rebels like 
Becker, to put fire, spirit, and hope in them? 
Verily the Beckers are dangerous. 

Appalling as the scene in the office of Dreis- 
siger is, the life in the home of the old weaver 
Baumert is even more terrible. His decrepit old 
wife, his idiotic son August, who still has to wind 
spools, his two daughters weaving their youth and 
bloom into the cloth, and Ansorge, the broken 
remnant of a heroic type of man, bent over his 
baskets, all live in cramped quarters lit up only 

The Weavers 103 

by two small windows. They are waiting anx- 
iously for the few pence old Baumert is to bring, 
that they may indulge in a long-missed meal. 
" What . . . what . . . what is to become of us 
if he don't come home?" laments Mother 
Baumert. " There is not so much as a handful 
o' salt in the house — not a bite o' bread, nor a 
bit o' wood for the fire." 

But old Baumert has not forgotten his family. 
He brings them a repast, the first " good meal " 
they have had in two years. It is the meat of 
their faithful little dog , whom Baumert could not 
kill himself because he loved him so. But hunger 
knows no choice; Baumert had his beloved dog 
killed, because " a nice little bit o' meat like that 
does you a lot o' good." 

It did not do old Baumert much good. His 
stomach, tortured and abused so long, rebelled, 
and the old man had to " give up the precious 
dog." And all this wretchedness, all this horror 
almost within sight of the palatial home of Dreis- 
siffer, whose dogs are better fed than his human c 
slaves. ^ 

Man's endurance is almost limitless. Almost, 
yet not quite. For there comes a time when the 
Baumerts, even like their stomachs, rise in re- 
bellion, when they hurl themselves, even though 
in blind fury, against the pillars of their prison 
house. Such a moment comes to the weavers, the 

I04 Gerhart Hauptmann 

most patient, docile and subdued of humanity, 
when stirred to action by the powerful poem read 
to them by the Jaeger. 

The justice to us weavers dealt 

Is bloody, cruel, and hateful; 
Our life's one torture, long drawn out: 

For Lynch law we'd be grateful. 

Stretched on the rack day after day. 

Heart sick and bodies aching, 
Our heavy sighs their witness bear 

To spirit slowly breaking. 

The Dreissigers true hangmen are. 
Servants no whit behind them; 

Masters and men with one accord 
Set on the poor to grind them. 

You villains all, you brood of hell • . . 

You fiends in fashion human, 
A curse will fall on all like you, 

Who prey on man and woman. 

The suppliant knows he asks in vain, 
Vain every word that's spoken. 

" If not content, then go and starve — 
Our rules cannot be broken." 

Then think of all our woe and want, 

O ye, who hear this ditty! 
Our struggle vain for daily bread 

Hard hearts would move to pity. 

The Weavers 105' 

But pity's what you've never known, — 
You'd take both skin and clothing, 

You cannibals, whose cruel deeds 
Fill all good men with loathing. 

The Dreissigers, however, will take no heed. 
Arrogant and secure in the possession of their 
stolen wealth, supported by the mouthpieces of 
the Church and the State, they feel safe from 
the wrath of the people — till it is too late. But 
when the storm breaks, they show the yellow 
streak and cravenly run to cover. 

The weavers, roused at last by the poet's de- 
scription of their condition, urged on by the in- 
spiring enthusiasm of the Beckers and the Jaegers, 
become indifferent to the threats of the law and 
ignore the soft tongue of the dispenser of the pure 
word of God, — " the God who provides shelter 
and food for the birds and clothes the lilies of the 
field." Too long they had believed in Him. No 
wonder Pastor Kittelhaus is now at a loss to under- 
stand the weavers, heretofore " so patient, so hum- 
ble, so easily led." The Pastor has to pay the 
price for his stupidity : the weavers have outgrown 
even him. 

The spirit of revolt sweeps their souls. It 
gives them courage and strength to attack the rot- 
ten structure, to drive the thieves out of the tem- 
ple, aye, even to rout the soldiers who come to 
save the sacred institution of capitalism. The 

io6 Gerhart Hauptmann 

women, too, are imbued with the spirit of revolt 
and become an avenging force. Not even the 
devout faith of Old Hilse, who attempts to stem 
the tide with his blind belief in his Saviour, can 
stay them. 

Old Hilse. O Lord, we know not how to be thankful 
enough to Thee, for that Thou hast spared us this night 
again in Thy goodness ... an' hast had pity on us . . . 
an* hast suffered us to take no harm. Thou art the All- 
merciful, an* we are poor, sinful children of men — that 
bad that we are not worthy to be trampled under Thy 
feet. Yet Thou art our loving Father, an* Thou wilt 
look upon us an* accept us for the sake of Thy dear Son, 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. " Jesus* blood and 
righteousness, Our covering is and glorious dress.*' An* 
if we*re sometimes too sore cast down under Thy chas- 
tening — when the fire of Thy purification burns too 
ragin' hot — oh, lay it not to our charge; forgive us our 
sin. Give us patience, heavenly Father, that after all 
these sufferin*s we may be made partakers of Thy eternal 
blessedness. Amen. 

The tide is rushing on. Luise, Old Hilse's 
own daughter-in-law, is part of the tide. 

Luise, You an* your piety an* religion — did they 
serve to keep the life in my poor children? In rags an' 
dirt they lay, all the four — it didn't as much as keep 
*em dry. Yes! I sets up to be a mother, that's what I 
do — an* if you*d like to know it, that's why I'd send 

The Weavers 107 

all the manufacturers to hell — because I am a mother! 
— Not one of the four could I keep in life ! It was 
cryin' more than breathin' with me from the time each 
poor little thing came into the world till death took pity 
on it. The devil a bit you cared ! You sat there prayin* 
and singin', and let me run about till my feet bled, tryin' 
to get one little drop 0' skim milk. How many hundred 
nights has I lain an' racked my head to think what I 
could do to cheat the churchyard of my little one ? What 
harm has a baby like that done that it must come to such 
a miserable end — eh? An' over there at Dittrich's 
they're bathed in wine an' washed in milk. No! you may 
talk as you like, but if they begins here, ten horses won't 
hold me back. An' what's more — if there's a rush on 
Dittrich's, you will see me in the forefront of It — an' 
pity the man as tries to prevent me — I've stood it long 
enough, so now you know it. 

Thus the tide sweeps over Old Hike, as it must 
sweep over every obstacle, every hindrance, once 
labor awakens to the consciousness of its solidaric 

An epic of misery and revolt never before 
painted with such terrific force, such inclusive art- 
istry. Hence its wide human appeal, its incon- 
trovertible indictment and its ultra-revolutionary 
significance, not merely to Silesia or Germany, but 
to our whole pseudo-civilization built on the mis- 
ery and exploitation of the wealth producers, of 
Labor. None greater, none more universal than 

io8 Gerhart Hauptmann 

this stirring, all-embracing message of the most 
humanly creative genius of our time — Gerhart 


The great versatility of Gerhart Hauptmann 
is perhaps nowhere so apparent as in " The 
Sunken Bell," the poetic fairy tale of the tragedy 
of Man, a tragedy as rich in symbolism as it is 
realistically true — a tragedy as old as mankind, 
as elemental as man's ceaseless struggle to cut 
loose from the rock of ages. 

Hetnrich, the master bell founder, is an idealist 
consumed by the fire of a great purpose. He has 
already set a hundred bells ringing in a hundred 
different towns, all singing his praises. But his 
restless spirit is not appeased. Ever it soars to 
loftier heights, always yearning to reach the sun. 

Now once more he has tried his powers, and 
the new bell, the great Master Bell, is raised aloft, 
— only to sink into the mere, carrying its maker 
with it. 

His old ideals are broken, and Hetnrich is lost 
in the wilderness of life. 

Weak and faint with long groping in the dark 
woods, and bleeding, Hetnrich reaches the moun- 
tain top and there beholds Raufendelein, the spirit 
of freedom, that has allured him on in the work 

The Sunken Bell 109 

which he strove — " in one grand Bell, to weld 
the silver music of thy voice with the warm gold 
of a Sun-holiday. It should have been a master- 
work! I failed, then wept I tears of blood." 
Heinrich returns to his faithful wife Mag da, his 
children, and his village friends — to die. The 
bell that sank into the mere was not made for the 
heights — it was not fit to wake the answering 
echoes of the peaks! 


• ••••••• 

*Twas for the valley — not the mountain-top! 
I choose to die. The service of the valleys 
Charms me no longer, . . . since on the peak I stood. 
Youth — a new youth — I'd need, if I should live: 
Out of some rare and magic mountain flower 
Marvelous juices I should need to press — 
Heart-health, and strength, and the mad lust of triumph, 
Steeling my hand to work none yet have dreamed of I 

Rautendelein, the symbol of youth and freedom, 
the vision of new strength and expression, wakes 
Heinrich from his troubled sleep, kisses him back 
to life, and inspires him with faith and courage 
to work toward greater heights. 

Heinrich leaves his wife, his hearth, his native 
place, and rises to the summit of his ideal, there 
to create, to fashion a marvel bell whose iron 
throat shall send forth 

no Gerhart Hauptmann 

The first waking peal 

Shall shake the skies — when, from the somber clouds 

That weighed upon us through the winter night, 

Rivers of jewels shall go rushing down 

Into a million hands outstretched to clutch! 

Then all who drooped, with sudden power inflamed, 

Shall bear their treasure homeward to their huts. 

There to unfurl, at last, the silken banners. 

Waiting — so long, so long — to be upraised. 

• ••••••• 

And now the wondrous chime again rings out. 
Filling the air with such sweet, passionate sound 
As makes each breast to sob with rapturous pain. 
It sings a song, long lost and long forgotten, 
A song of home — a childlike song of Love, 
Born in the waters of some fairy well — 
Known to all mortals, and yet heard of none! 

And as it rises, softly first, and low. 

The nightingale and dove seem singing, too; 

And all the ice in every human breast 

Is melted, and the hate, and pain, and woe, 

Stream out in tears. 

Indeed a wondrous bell, as only those can forge 
who have reached the mountain top, — they who 
can soar upon the wings of their imagination high 
above the valley of the commonplace, above the 
dismal gray of petty consideration, beyond the 
reach of the cold, stifling grip of reality, — hi^er, 
ever higher, to kiss the sun-lit sky. 

The Sunken Bell ill 

Heinrich spreads his wings. Inspired by the 
divine fire of Rautendelein, he all but reaches the 
pinnacle. But there is the Vicar, ready to wrestle 
with the devil for a poor human soul; to buy it 
free, if need be, to drag it back to its cage that it 
may never rise again in rebellion to the will of 

The Vicar, 

You shun the church, take refuge in the mountains; 
This many a month you have not seen the home 
Where your poor wife sits sighing, while, each day, 
Your children drink their lonely mother*s -tears ! 

For this there is no name but madness. 
And wicked madness. Yes. I speak the truth. 
Here stand I, Master, overcome with horror 
At the relentless cruelty of your heart. 
Now Satan, aping God, hath dealt a blow — 
Yes, I must speak my mind — a blow so dread 
That even he must marvel at his triumph. 

. . . Now — I have done. 
Too deep, yea to the neck, you are sunk in sin! 
Your Hell, decked out in beauty as high Heaven, 
Shall hold you fast. I will not waste more words. 
Yet mark this. Master: witches make good fuel. 
Even as heretics, for funeral-pyres. 

. . . Your ill deeds. 
Heathen, and secret once, are now laid bare. 
Horror they wake, and soon there shall come hate. 

112 Gerhart Hauptmann 

Then, go your way! Farewell! My task is done. 

The hemlock of your sin no man may hope 

To rid your soul of. May God pity you! 

But this remember! There's a word named rue! 

And some day, some day, as your dreams you dream, 

A sudden arrow, shot from out the blue. 

Shall pierce your breast! And yet you shall not die, 

Nor shall you live. In that dread day you'll curse 

All you now cherish — God, the world, your work, 

Your wretched self you 11 curse. Then . , . think of 

That bell shall ring again! Then think of me! 

Bare^ly does Hetnrich escape the deadly clutch 
of outlived creeds, superstitions, and conventions 
embodied in the Vicar, than he is in the throes of 
other foes who conspire his doom. 

Nature herself has decreed the death of Hein- 
rich. For has not man turned his back upon her, 
has he not cast her oflf, scorned her beneficial of- 
ferings, robbed her of her beauty, devastated her 
charms and betrayed her trust — all for the 
ephemeral glow of artifice and sham? Hence 
Nature, too, is Heinrich's foe. Thus the Spirit 
of the Earth, with all Its passions and lusts, sym- 
bolized in the Wood Sprite, and gross materialism 
in the person of the Nickelmann, drive the in- 
truder back. 

The Wood Sprite, 
He crowds us from our hills. He hacks and hews» 

The Sunken Bell 113 

Digs up our metals, sweats, and smelts, and brews. 
The earth-man and the water-sprite he takes 
To drag his burdens, and, to harness, breaks. 

She steals my cherished flowers, my red-brown ores, 
My gold, my precious stones, my resinous stores. 
She serves him like a slave, by night and day. 
'Tis he she kisses — us she keeps at bay. 
Naught stands against him. Ancient trees he fells. 
The earth quakes at his tread, and all the dells 
Ring with the echo of his thunderous blows. 
His crimson smithy furnace glows and shines 
Into the depths of my most secret mines. 
What he is up to, only Satan knows ! 

The Nickelmann, 
Brekekekex! Hadst thou the creature slain, 
A-rotting in the mere long since he had lain — 
The maker of the bell, beside the bell. 
And so when next I had wished to throw the stones. 
The bell had been my box — the dice, his bones! 

But even they are powerless to stem the tide of 
the Ideal: they are helpless in the face of Hein- 
rich's new-born faith, of his burning passion to 
complete his task, and give voice to the thousand- 
throated golden peal. 

Hetnrich works and toils, and when doubt casts 
its black shadow athwart his path, Rautendelein 
charms back hope. She alone has boundless faith 
in her Balder, — god of the joy of Life — for he 
is part of her, of the great glowing force her spirit 

114 Gerhart Hauptmann 

breathed into the Heinrichs since Time was born 
— Liberty, redeemer of man. 

I am thy Balder? 

Make me believe it — make me know it, child! 
Give my faint soul the rapturous joy it needs, 
To nerve it to its task. For, as the hand. 
Toiling with tong and hammer, on and on. 
To hew the marble and to guide the chisel, 
Now bungles here, now there, yet may not halt, 

• . . But — enough of this, 
Still straight and steady doth the smoke ascend 
From my poor human sacrifice to heaven. 
Should now a Hand on high reject my gift. 
Why, it may do so. Then the priestly robe 
Falls from my shoulder — by no act of mine; 
While I, who erst upon the heights was set. 
Must look my last on Horeb, and be dumb! 
But now bring torches! Lights! And show thine Art! 
Enchantress! Fill the wine-cup! We will drink! 
Ay, like the common herd of mortal men. 
With resolute hands our fleeting joy we*ll grip! 
Our unsought leisure we will fill with life. 
Not waste it, as the herd, in indolence. 
We will have music! 

While Heinrich and Rautendelein are in the 
ecstasy of their love and work, the spirits 
weave their treacherous web — they threaten, 
they plead, they cling, — spirits whose pain and 

The Sunken Bell 115 

grief are harder to bear than the enmity or 
menace of a thousand foes. Spirits that entwine 
one's heartstrings with tender touch, yet are heav- 
ier fetters, more oppressive than leaden weights. 
Heinrich's children, symbolizing regret that par- 
alyzes one's creative powers, bring their mother's 
tears and with them a thousand hands to pull 
Heinrich down from his heights, back to the val- 

" The bell ! The bell ! " The old, long buried 
bell again ringing and tolling. Is it not the echo 
from the past? The superstitions instilled from 
birth, the prejudices that cling to man with cruel 
persistence, the conventions which fetter the wings 
of the idealist: the Old wrestling with the New 
for the control of man. 

" The Sunken Bell " is a fairy tale in its poetic 
beauty and glow of radiant color. But stripped 
of the legendary and symbolic, it is the life story 
of every seeker for truth, of the restless spirit of 
rebellion ever striving onward, ever reaching out 
toward the sun-tipped mountain, ever yearning 
for a new-born light. 

Too long had Heinrich lived in the valley. It 
has sapped his strength, has clipped his wings. 
"Too late! Thy heavy burdens weigh thee 
down; thy dead ones are too mighty for thee." 
Heinrich has to die. " He who has flown so high 

Ii6 Gerhart Hauptmann 

into the very Light, as thou hast flown, must per- 
ish, if he once fall back to earth." 

Thus speak the worldly wise. As if death 
could still the burning thirst for light; as if the 
hunger for the ideal could ever be appeased by the 
thought of destruction! The worldly wise. never 
feel the irresistible urge to dare the cruel fates. 
With the adder in Maxim Gorki's " Song of the 
Falcon" they sneer, "What is the sky? An 
empty place. . . . Why disturb the soul with the 
desire to soar into the sky? . . . Queer birds," 
they laugh at the falcons. " Not knowing the 
earth and grieving on it, they yearn for the sky, 
seeking for light in the sultry desert. For it is 
only a desert, with no food and no supporting 
place for a living body." 

The Heinrichs are the social falcons, and 
though they perish when they fall to earth, they 
die in the triumphant glory of having beheld the 
sun, of having braved the storm, defied the clouds 
and mastered the air. 

The sea sparkles m the glowing light, the waves 
dash against the shore. In their lion-like roar a 
song resounds about the proud falcons : " O dar- 
ing Falcon, in the battle with sinister forces you 
lose your life. But the time will come when your 
precious blood will illumine, like the burning torch 
of truth, the dark horizon of man; when your 

The Sunken Bell I17 

blood shall inflame many brave hearts with a burn- 
ing desire for freedom." 

The time when the peals of Heinrich's Bell will 
call the strong and daring to battle for light and 
joy. "Hark! . . . 'Tis the music of the Sun- 
bells' song! The Sun . . . the Sun . . . draws 
near I " . . . and though " the night is long," 
dawn breaks, its first rays falling on the dying 



FRANK WEDEKIND is perhaps the 
most daring dramatic spirit in Germany. 
Coming to the fore much later than Sud- 
ermann and Hauptmann, he did not fol- 
low in their path, but set out in quest of new truths. 
More boldly than any other dramatist Frank 
Wedekind has laid bare the shams of morality 
in reference to sex, especially attacking the igno- 
rance surrounding the sex life of the child and 
its resultant tragedies. 

Wedekind became widely known through his 
great drama '' The Awakening of Spring," which 
he called a tragedy of childhood, dedicating thcL. 
work to parents and teachers. Verily an appro- 
priate dedication, because parents and teachers 
are, in relation to the child's needs, the most 
ignorant and mentally indolent class. Needless 
to say, this element entirely failed to grasp the 
social significance of Wedekind's work. On the 
contrary, they saw in it an invasion of their tradi- 
tional authority and an outrage on the sacred 
rights of parenthood. 


The Awakening of Spring II9 

The critics also could see naught in Wedekind, 
except a base, perverted, almost diabolic nature 
bereft of all finer feeling. But professional critics 
seldom see below the surface; else they would 
discover beneath the grin and satire of Frank 
Wedekind a sensitive soul, deeply stirred by the 
heart-rending tragedies about him. Stirred and 
grieved especially by the misery and torture of 
the child, — the helpless victim unable to explain 
the forces germinating in its nature, often crushed 
and destroyed by mock modesty, sham decencies, 
and the complacent morality that greet its blind 

Never was a more powerful indictment hurled 
against society, which out of sheer hypocrisy and 
cowardice persists that boys and girls must grow 
up in ignorance of their sex functions, that they 
must be sacrificed on the altar of stupidity and 
convention which taboo the enlightenment of the 
child in questions of such elemental importance 
to health and well-being. 

frhe most criminal phase of the indictment, how- 
ever, is that it is generally the most promising 
children who are sacrificed to sex ignorance and 
to the total lack of appreciation on the part of 
teachers of the latent qualities and tendencies in 
the child^the one slaying the body and soul, the 
other paralyzing the function of the brain; and 

I20 Frank Wedekind 

both conspiring to give to the world mental and 
physical mediocrities. 

" The Awakening of Spring '* is laid in three 
acts and fourteen scenes, consisting almost entirely 
of dialogues among the children. So close is 
Wedekind to the soul of the child that he suc- 
ceeds in unveiling before our eyes, with a most 
gripping touch, its joys and sorrows, its hopes and 
despair, its struggles and tragedies. 

The play deals with a group of school children 
just entering the age of puberty, — imaginative be- 
ings speculating about the mysteries of life. 
JVendla, sent to her grave by her loving but 
prudish mother, is an exquisite, lovable child; 
Melchior, the innocent father of Wendlc^s unborn 
baby, is a gifted boy whose thirst for knowledge 
leads him to inquire into the riddle of life, and 
to share his observations with his school chums, 
— a youth who, in a free and intelligent atmos- 
phere, might have developed into an original 
thinker. That such a boy should be punished as 
a moral pervert, only goes to prove the utter un- 
fitness of our educators and parents. Moritz, 
Melchior's playfellow, is driven to suicide because 
he cannot pass his . examinations, thanks to our 
stupid and criminal system of education which con- 
sists in cramming the mind to the bursting point. 

Wedekind has been accused of exaggerating 
his types, but any one familiar with child life 

The Awakening of Spring 121 

knows that every word in " The Awakening of 
Spring " is vividly true. The conversation be- 
tween Melchior and Moritz, for instance, is typi- 
cal of all boys not mentally inert. 

Melchior. Fd like to know why we really are on 
earth ! 

Moritz, I'd rather be a cab-horse than go to 
school! — Why do we go to school? — We go to 
school so that somebody can examine us! — And why 
do they examine us? — In order that we may fail. 
Seven must fail, because the upper classroom will hold 
only sixty. — I feel so queer since Christmas, — The 
devil take me, if it were not for Papa, Fd pack my 
bundle and go to Altoona, to-day! 

Moritz, Do you believe, Melchior, that the feeling 
of shame in man is only a product of his education? 

Melchior. I was thinking over that for the first time 
the day before yesterday. It seems to me deeply rooted in 
human nature. Only think, you must appear entirely 
clothed before your best friend. You wouldn't do so if 
he didn't do the same thing. — Therefore, it's more or 
less of a fashion. 

Moritz. Have you experienced it yet? 

Melchior. What ? 

Moritz. How do you say it? 

Melchior. Manhood's emotion? 

Moritz. M — 'hm. 

Melchior. Certainly. 

Moritz. I also . . . 

Melchior. I've known that for a long while ! — Al- 
most for a year. 

122 Frank Wedekind 

Moritz. I was startled as if by lightning. 

Melchior, Did you dream? 

Moritz, Only for a little while — of legs in li^t 
blue tights, that strode over the cathedral — to be cor- 
rect, I thought they wanted to go over it. I only saw 
them for an instant. 

Melchior, George Zirschnitz dreamed of his mother. 

Moritz, Did he tell you that? ... I thought I was 
incurable. I believed I was suffering from an inward 
hurt. — Finally I became calm enough to begin to jot 
down the recollections of my life. Yes, yes, dear Mel- 
chior, the last three weeks have been a Gethsemane for 
me. . . . Truly they play a remarkable game with us. 
And we're expected to give thanks for it. I don't re- 
member to have had any longing for this kind of excite- 
ment. Why didn't they let me sleep peacefully until all 
was still again. My dear parents might have had a hun- 
dred better children. I came here, I don't know how, 
and must be responsible myself for not staying away. — 
Haven't you often wondered, Melchior, by what means 
we were brought into this whirl? 

Melchior. Don't you know that yet either, Moritz? 

Moritz. How should I know it? I see how the hens 
lay eggs, and hear that Mamma had to carry me under 
her heart. But is that enough? ... I have gone 
through Meyer's " Little Encyclopedia " from A to Z. 
Words — nothing but words and words! Not a single 
plain explanation. Oh, this feeling of shame! — What 
good to me is an encyclopedia that won't answer mc con- 
cerning the most important question in life? 

The Awakening of Spring 123 

Yes, of what good is an encyclopedia or the 
other wise books to the quivering, restless spirit 
of the child? No answer anywhere, least of all 
from your own mother, as Wendla and many an- 
other like her have found out. 

The girl, learning that her sister has a new 
baby, rushes to her mother to find out how it came 
into the world. 

Wendla, I have a sister who has been married for 
two and a half years, I myself have been made an aunt 
for the third time, and I haven't the least idea how it all 
comes about — Don't be cross, Mother dear, don't 
be cross! Whom in the world should I ask but you! 
Please tell me, dear Mother! Tell me, dear Mother! 
I am ashamed for myself. Please, Mother, speak! 
Don't scold me for asking you about it. Give me an 
answer— How does it happen? — How does it all 
come about? — You cannot really deceive yourself that 
I, who am fourteen years old, still believe in the stork. 

Frau Bergmann. Good Lord, child, but you are pecu- 
liar! — What ideas you have! — I really can't do 

Wendla. But why not. Mother? — Why not? — 
It can't be anything ugly If everybody is delighted over it ! 

Frau Bergmann, O — O God, protect me! — I de- 
serve — Go get dressed, child, go get dressed. 

Wendla. I'll go — And suppose your child went out 
and asked the chimney sweep? 

Frau Bergmann. But that would be madness! — 

124 Frank Wedekind 

Q)me here, child, come here, V\\ tell you! Ill tell you 
everything — ... In order to have a child — one must 
love — the man — to whom one is married — love him, 
I tell you — as one can only love a man ! One must love 
him so much with one's whole heart, so — so that one 
can't describe it ! One must love him, Wendla, as you 
at your age are still unable to love — Now you know it! 

How much Wendla knew, her mother found 
out when too late. 

Wendla and Melchior, overtaken by a storm, 
seek shelter in a haystack, and are drawn by what 
Melchior calls the " first emotion of manhood " 
and curiosity into each other's arms. Six months 
later Wendlc^s mother discovers that her child is 
to become a mother. To save the family honor, 
the girl is promptly placed in the hands of a quack 
who treats her for chlorosis. 

Wendla. No, Mother, no! I know it. I feel it. I 
haven't chlorosis. I have dropsy — I won't get better. 
I have the dropsy, I must die, Mother — O, Mother, 
I must die! 

Frau Bergmann, You must not die, child! You 
must not die — Great heavens, you must not die! 

Wendla. But why do you weep so frightfully, then? 

Frau Bergmann, You must not die, child! You 
haven't the dropsy, you have a child, girl! You have a 
child! Oh, why did you do that to me? 

Wendla. I haven't done anything to you*^ 

Frau Bergmann. Oh, don't deny it any more. 

The Awakening of Spring 125 

.Wendla! — I know everything. See, I didn't want to 
say a word to you. — Wendla, my Wendla — ! 

Wendla. But it's not possible, Mother. ... I have 
loved nobody in the world as I do you, Mother. 

The pathos of it, that such a loving mother 
should be responsible for the death of her own 
child ! Yet Frau Bergmann is but one of the many 
good, pious mothers who lay their children to 
*' rest in God," with the inscription on the tomb- 
stone: "Wendla Bergmann, born May 5th, 
1878, died from chlorosis, Oct. 27, 1892. 
Blessed are the pure of heart." 

Melchior, like Wendla, was also " pure of 
heart "; yet how was he " blessed "? Surely not 
by his teachers who, discovering his essay on the 
mystery of life, expel the boy from school. Only 
Wedekind could inject such grim humor into the 
farce of education — the smug importance of the 
faculty of the High School sitting under the por- 
traits of Rousseau and Pestalozzi, and pronounc- 
ing judgment on their " immoral " pupil Melchior. 

Rector Sonnenstich. Gentlemen: We cannot help 
moving the expulsion of our guilty pupil before the Na- 
tional Board of Education; there are the strongest reasons 
why we cannot: we cannot, because we must expiate the 
misfortune which has fallen upon us already; we cannot, 
because of our need to protect ourselves from similar 
blows in the future; we cannot, because we must chas- 
tise our guilty pupil for the demoralizing influence he 

126 Frank Wedekind 

exerted upon his classmates ; we cannot, above all, because 
we must hinder him from exerting the same influence 
upon his remaining classmates. We cannot ignore the 
charge — and this, gentlemen, is possibly the weightiest 
of all — on any pretext concerning a ruined career, be- 
cause it is our duty to protect ourselves from an epidemic 
of suicide similar to that which has broken out recently 
in various grammar schools, and which until to-day has 
mocked all attempts of the teachers to shackle it by any 
means known to advanced education. . . . We see our- 
selves under the necessity of judging the guilt-laden that 
we may not be judged guilty ourselves. . . . Are you the 
author of this obscene manuscript? 

Melchior, Yes — I request you, sir, to show me any- 
thing obscene in it. 

Sonnensttch. You have as little respect for the dig- 
nity of your assembled teachers as you have a proper 
appreciation of mankind's innate sense of shame which 
belongs to a moral world. 

Melchior' 5 mother, a modern type, has greater 
faith in her child than in school education. But 
even she cannot hold out against the pressure of 
public opinion; still less against the father of 
Melchior, a firm believer in authority and dis- 

Herr Gabor. Anyone who can write what Melchior 
wrote must be rotten to the core of his being. The mark 
is plain. A half-healthy nature wouldn't do such a 
thing. None of us are saints. Each of us wanders from 

The Awakening of Spring 127 

the straight path. His writing, on the contrary, 
tramples on principles. His writing is no evidence of 
a chance slip in the usual way; it sets forth with dread- 
ful plainness and a frankly definite purpose that natural 
longing, that propensity for immorality, because it is im- 
morality. His writing manifests that exceptional state 
of spiritual corruption which we jurists classify under 
the term " moral imbecility." 

Between the parents and the educators, 
Melchior is martyred even as Wendla, He is 
sent to the House of Correction; but being of 
sturdier stock than the girl, he survives. 

Not so his chum Moritz. Harassed by the Im- 
pelling forces of his awakened nature, and unable 
to grapple with the torturous tasks demanded by 
his *' educators " at the most critical period of his 
life, Moritz falls In the examinations. He can- 
not face his parents: they have placed all their 
hope in him, and have lashed him, by the subtle 
cruelty of gratitude, to the grindstone till his brain 
reeled. Moritz is the third victim in the tragedy, 
the most convenient explanation of which is given 
by Pastor Kahlbauch In the funeral sermon. 

Pastor Kahlbauch. He who rejects the grace with 
which the Everlasting Father has blessed those born in 
sin, he shall die a spiritual death ! — He, however, who 
in willful carnal abnegation of God's proper honor, lives 
for and serves evil, shall die the death of the body! — 
Who, however, wickedly throws away from him the cross 

128 Frank Wedekind 

which the All Merciful has laid upon him for his sins, 
verily, verily, I say unto you, he shall die the everlasting 
death! Let us, however, praise the All Gracious Lord 
and thank Him for His inscrutable grace in order that 
we may travel the thorny path more and more surely. 
For as truly as this one died a triple death, as truly will 
the Lord God conduct the righteous unto happiness and 
everlasting life. . . . 

'^It is hardly necessary to point out the revolu- 
tionary significance of this extraordinary play. It 
speaks powerfully for itself. One need only add 
that " The Awakening of Spring " has done much 
to dispel the mist enveloping the paramount issue 
of sex in the education of the child. To-day it is 
conceded even by conservative elements that the 
conspiracy of silence has been a fatal mistake;. 
And while sponsors of the Church and of moral 
fixity still clamor for the good old methods, the 
message of Wedekind is making itself felt 
throughout the world, breaking down the barriers. 
The child Is the unit of the race, and only 
through its unhampered uijfoldment can humanity 
come into its heritage. • " The Awakening of 
Spring " is one of the great forces of modern 
times that is paving the way for the birth of a free 




TO those who are conversant with the 
works of Maeterlinck it may seem 
rather far-fetched to discuss him from 
the point of view of revolutionary and 
social significance. Above all, Maeterlinck is the 
portrayer of the remote, the poet of symbols; 
therefore it may seem out of place to bring him 
down to earth, to simplify him, or to interpret his 
revolutionary spirit. To some extent these ob- 
jections have considerable weight; but on the other 
hand, if one keeps in mind that only those who 
go to the remote are capable of understanding the 
obvious, one will readily see how very significant 
Maeterlinck is as a revolutionizing factor. Be- 
sides, we have Maeterlinck's own conception of 
the significance of the revolutionary spirit. In a 
very masterly article called " The Social Revolu- 
tion," he discusses the objection on the part of the 
conservative section of society to the introduction 

of revolutionary methods. He says that they 


130 Maeterlin ck 

would like us to " go slow "; that they object to 
the use of violence and the forcible overthrow 
of the evils of society. And Maeterlinck answers 
in these significant words: 

" We are too ready to forget that the heads- 
men of misery are less noisy, less theatrical, but 
infinitely more numerous, more cruel and active 
than those of the most terrible revolutions." 

Maeterlinck realizes that there are certain 
grievances in society, iniquitous conditions which 
demand immediate solution, and that if we do not 
solve them with the readiest and quickest methods 
at our command, they will react upon society and 
upon life a great deal more terribly than even the 
most terrible revolutions. No wonder, then, that 
his works were put under the ban by the Catholic 
Church which forever sees danger in light and 
emancipation. Surely if Maeterlinck were not 
primarily the spokesman of truth, he would be 
embraced by the Catholic Church. 

In " Monna Vanna " Maeterlinck gives a won- 
derful picture of the new woman — not the new 
woman as portrayed in the newspapers, but the 
new woman as a reborn, regenerated spirit; the 
woman who has emancipated herself from her 
narrow outlook upon life, and detached herself 
from the confines of the home; the woman, in 
short, who has become race-conscious and there- 
fore understands that she is a unit in the great 

Monna Vanna 131 

ocean of life, and that she must take her place as 
an independent factor in order to rebuild and re- 
mold life. In proportion as she learns to become 
race-conscious, does she become a factor in the 
reconstruction of society, valuable to herself, to 
her children, and to the race. 

Pisa is subdued by the forces of Florence ; it is 
beaten and conquered. The city is in danger of 
being destroyed, and the people exposed to famine 
and annihilation. There is only one way of sav- 
ing Pisa. Marco Colonna, the father of the Com- 
mander of Pisa, brings the ultimatum of the 
enemy : 

Marco. Know, then, that I saw Prinzivalle and spoke 
with him. ... I thought to find some barbarian, arro- 
gant and heavy, always covered with blood or plunged 
in drunken stupor; at best, the madman they have told 
us of, whose spirit was lit up at times, upon the battle- 
field, by dazzling flashes of brilliance, coming no man 
knows whence. I thought to meet the demon of combat, 
bh'nd, unreasoning, vain and cruel, faithless and disso- 
lute. ... I found a man who bowed before me as a 
loving disciple bows before the master. He is lettered, 
eager for knowledge, and obedient to the voice of wis- 
dom. . . . He loves not war; his smile speaks of under- 
standing and gentle humanity. He seeks the reason of 
passions and events. He looks into his own heart; he is 
endowed with conscience and sincerity, and it is against 
his will that he serves a faithless State. ... I have told 

132 Maeterlinck 

you that Prinzivalle seems wise, that he is humane and 
reasonable. But where is the wise man that hath not 
his private madness, the good man to whom no monstrous 
idea has ever come? On one side is reason and pit; and 
justice; on the other — ah! there is desire and passion 
and what you will — the insanity into which we all fall 
at times. I have fallen into it myself, and shall, belike, 
again — so have you. Man is made in that fashion. A 
grief whicK should not be within the experience of man is 
on the point of touching you. . . . Hearken: this great 
convoy, the victuals that I have seen, wagons running 
over with corn, others full of wine and fruit; flocks of 
sheep and herds of cattle, enough to feed a city for 
months; all these tuns of powder and bars of lead, with 
which you may vanquish Florence and make Pisa lift her 
head — all this will enter the city to-night, ... if you 
send in exchange, to give her up to Prinzivalle until to- 
morrow's dawn, ... for he will send her back when 
the first faint gray shows in the sky, . . . only, he exacts 
that, in sign of victory and submission, she shall come 
alone, and her cloak for all her covering. . . . 

Guido, Who? Who shall thus come? 

Marco. Giovanna. 

Guido. My wife? Vanna? 

Marco. Ay, your Vanna. 

Guido Colonna, in the consciousness that the 
woman belongs to him, that no man may even 
look, with desire, upon her dazzling beauty, re- 
sents this mortal insult. He is willing that all 
the other women should face danger, that the lit- 

Monna Vanna 133 

tie children of Pisa should be exposed to hunger 
and destruction, rather than that he give up his 
possession. But Monna Vanna does not hesitate. 
When she is before the issue of saving her people, 
she does not stop to consider. She goes into the 
enemy's tent, as a child might go, without con- 
sciousness of self, imbued solely with the impulse 
to save her people. 

The meeting of Monna Vanna and Prinzivalle 
IS an exquisite interpretation of love — the sweet- 
ness, purity, and fragrance of Prinzivalle's love 
for the woman of his dream — the one he had 
known when she was but a child, and who re- 
mained an inspiring vision all through his career. 
He knows he cannot reach her ; he also knows that 
he will be destroyed by the political intriguers of 
Florence, and he stakes his all on this one step 
to satisfy the dream of his life to see Vanna and 
in return to save Pisa. 

Prinzivalle. Had there come ten thousand of you into 
my tent, all clad alike, all equally fair, ten thousand sis- 
ters whom even their mother would not know apart, I 
should have risen, should have taken your hand, and said, 
** This IS she! " Is it not strange that a beloved image 
can live thus in a man's heart? For yours lived so in 
mine that each day it changed as in real life — the image 
of to-day replaced that of yesterdiay — it blossomed out, 
it became alwa}^ fairer; and the years adorned it with 
all that they add to a child that grows in grace and 

134 Maeterlinck 

beauty. But when I saw you again, it seemed to mi 
first that my eyes deceived me. My memories wen 
fair and so fond — but they had been too slow and 
timid — they had not dared to give you all the splen 
which appeared so suddenly to dazzle me. I was a 
man that recalled to mind a flower he had but seen 
passing through a garden on a gray day, and should 
suddenly confronted with a hundred thousand as fail 
a field bathed with sunshine. I saw once more y 
hair, your brow, your eyes, and I found all the soul 
the face I had adored — but how its beauty shames t 
which I had treasured in silence through endless di 
through years whose only light was a memory that 1 
taken too long a road and found itself outshone by 
reality! . . • Ah! I knew not too well what I me 
to do. I felt that I was lost — and I desired to di 
with me all I could. . • . And I hated you, because of i 
love. . . . Yes, I should have gone to the end had 
not been you. • . . Yet any other would have seen 
odious to me — you yourself would have had to be otl 
than you are. ... I lose my reason when I think 
it. . . • One word would have been enough that w 
different from your words — one gesture that was r 
yours — the slightest thing would have inflamed my hi 
and let loose the monster. But when I saw you, I si 
in that same moment that it was impossible. 

Vanna, I felt a change, too. ... I marveled that 
could speak to you as I have spoken since the first m 
ment. ... I am silent by nature — I have never spok 
thus to any man, unless it be to Marco, Guid( 
father, . . , And even with him it is not the same. 1 

Monna Vanna 135 

has a thousand dreams that take up all his mind, . . « 
and we have talked but a few times. The others have 
always a desire in their eyes that will not suffer one to 
tell them that one loves them and would fain know what 
they have in their hearts. In your eyes, too, a longing 
burns; but it is not the same — it does not affright me 
nor fill me with loathing. I felt at once that I knew 
you before I remembered that I had ever seen you. . . . 

Vanna, awed by the character and personality 
of this despised and hated outlaw, pleads with 
him to come with her to Pisa under the protec- 
tion of herself and her husband. She Is sure that 
he will be safe with them, and that he will be 
hailed as the redeemer oi the people of Pisa. 
Like innocent children they walk to their doom. 

Vanna is honored by the people whom she has 
saved, but scorned by her husband who, like the 
true male, does not credit her story. 

Vanna, Hear me, I say! I have never lied — but 
to-day, above all days, I tell the deepest truth, the truth 
that can be told but once and brings life or death. . . . 
Hearken, Guido, then — and look upon me, if you havcj 
never known me until this hour, the first and only hour 
when you have it in your power to love me as I would 
be loved. I speak in the name of our life, of all that I 
am, of all that you are to me. ... Be strong enough 
to believe that which is incredible. This man has spared 
my honor. ... He had all power — I was given over 
to him. Yet he has not touched me — I have issued 

136 Maeterlinck 

from his tent as I might from my brother's house. . . . 
I gave him one only kiss upon the brow — and he gave 
it me again. 

Guido, Ah, that was what you were to tell us — that 
was the miracle! Ay, already, at the first words, I 
divined something beneath them that I understood 
not. ... It passed me like a flash — I took no heed of 
it . . . But I see now that I must look more closely. 
So, when he had you in his tent, alone, with a cloak for 
all your covering, all night long, you say he spared 
you? . . . Am I a man to believe that the stars are frag- 
ments of hellebore, or that one may drop something into 
a well and put out the moon? . . . What! a man de- 
sires you so utterly that he will betray his country, stake 
all that he has for one single night, ruin himself forever, 
and do it basely, do such a deed as no man ever thought 
to do before him, and make the world uninhabitable to 
himself forever! And this man has you there in his tent, 
alone and defenseless, and he has but this single night 
that he has bought at such a price — and he contents 
himself with a kiss upon the brow, and comes even hither 
to make us give him credence! No, let us reason fairly 
and not too long mock at misfortune. If^he asked but 
that, what need was there that he should plunge a whole 
people into sadness, sink me in an abyss of misery such 
that I have come from it crushed and older by ten years? 
Ah! Had he craved but a kiss upon the brow, he might 
have saved us without torturing us so! He had but to 
come like a god to our rescue. . . . But a kiss upon the 
brow is not demanded and prepared for after his fash- 

Monna Vanna 137 

ion. . . . The truth is found in our cries of anguish and 
despair. . . . 

It is only at this psychological moment, a mo- 
ment that sometimes changes all our conceptions, 
all our thoughts, our very life, that Monna 
Vanna feels the new love for Prinzivalle stirring 
in her soul, a love that knows no doubt. The 
conception of such a love is revolutionary in 
the scope of its possibilities — a love that is preg- 
nant with the spirit of daring, of freedom, that lifts 
woman out of the ordinary and inspires her with 
the strength and joy of molding a new and free 



IN view of the progress the modern drama 
has made as an interpreter of social ideas and 
portrayer of the human struggle against in- 
ternal and external barriers, it is difficult to 
say what the future may bring in the way of great 
dramatic achievement. So far, however, there is 
hardly anything to compare with " Chantecler " in 
philosophic depth and poetic beauty. 

Chantecler is the intense idealist, whose mission 
is light and truth. His soul is aglow with deep 
human sympathies, and his great purpose in life 
is to dispel the night. He keeps aloof from 
mediocrity; indeed, he has little knowledge of his 
immediate surroundings. Like all great vision- 
aries, Chantecler is human, " all too human " ; 
therefore subject to agonizing soul depressions and 
doubts. Always, however, he regains confidence 
and strength when he is close to the soil; when 
he feels the precious sap of the earth surging 
through his being. At such times he feels the 
mysterious power that gives him strength to pro- 


Chantecler 139 

claim the truth, to call forth the golden glory of 
the day. 

The pheasant hen Is the eternal female, bewitch- 
ingly beautiful, but self-centered and vain. True 
to her destrny, she must possess the man and is 
jealous of everything that stands between her and 
him she loves. She therefore employs every de- 
vice to kill Chantecler's faith in himself, for, as 
she tells him, ** You can be all in all to me, but 
nothing to the dawn." 

The blackbird is the modernist who has become 
blase, mentally and spiritually empty. He is a 
cynic and scoffer; without principle or sincerity 
himself, he sees only small and petty intentions in 
everybody else. 

Patou, true and stanch, is the symbol of honest 
conviction and simplicity of soul. He loathes the 
blackbird because he sees in him the embodiment 
of a shallow, superficial modernity, a modernity 
barren of all poetic vision, which aims only at ma- 
terial success and tinseled display, without regard 
for worth, harmony or peace. 

The peacock is the overbearing, conceited, in- 
tellectual charlatan ; the spokesman of our present- 
day culture ; the idle prater of ** art for art's sake." 
As such he sets the style and pace for the idle 
pursuits of an idle class. 

The guinea hen is none other than our most 
illustrious society lady. Sterile of mind and empty 

140 Rostand 

of soul, she flits from one social function to an- 
other, taking up every fad, clinging to the coat- 
tails of every newcomer, provided he represent 
station and prestige. She is the slave of fashion, 
the imitator of ideas, the silly hunter after effect — 
in short, the parasite upon the labor and efforts 
of others. 

The night birds are the ignorant, stupid main- 
tainers of the old. They detest the light because 
it exposes their mediocrity and stagnation. They 
hate Chantecler because, as the old owl remarks, 
" Simple torture it is to hear a brazen throat for- 
ever reminding you of what you know to be only 
too true I " This is a crime mediocrity never for- 
gives, and it conspires to kill Chantecler. 

The woodpecker is our very learned college 
professor. Dignified and important, he loudly 
proclaims the predigested food of his college as 
the sole source of all wisdom. 

The toads represent the cringing, slimy hangers- 
on, the flunkies and lickspittles who toady for the 
sake of personal gain. 

" Chantecler," then, is a scathing arraignment 
of the emptiness of our so-called wise and cultured, 
of the meanness of our conventional lies, the petty 
jealousies of the human breed in relation to each 
other. At the same time " Chantecler " character- 
izes the lack of understanding for, and apprecia- 
tion of, the ideal and the idealists — the mob 

Chanted er 141 

spirit, whether on top or at the bottom, using the 
most cruel and contemptible methods to drag the 
idealist down ; to revile and persecute him — aye, 
even to kill him — for the unpardonable sin of 
proclaiming the ideal. They cannot forgive 
Chantecler for worshiping the sun : 

Blaze forth in glory! . . . 

thou that driest the tears of the meanest among weeds 
And dost of a dead flower make a living butterfly — 
Thy miracle, wherever almond-trees 

Shower down the wind their scented shreds, 
Dead petals dancing in a living swarm — 

1 worship thee, O Sun! whose ample light, 
Blessing every forehead, ripening every fruit. 
Entering every flower and every hovel. 
Pours itself forth and yet is never less. 

Still spending and unspent — like mother's love! 

I sing of thee, and will be thy high priest. 
Who disdainest not to glass thy shining face 
In the humble basin of blue suds, 
Or see the lightning of thy last farewell 
Reflected in an humble cottage pane! 

• ••••••• 

Glory to thee in the vineyards! Glory to thee in the 

Glory among the grass and on the roofs. 
In eyes of lizards and on wings of swans, — 
Artist who making splendid the great things 

142 Rostand 

Forgets not to make exquisite the small! 

'Tis thou that, cutting out a silhouette, 

To all thou beamest on dost fasten this dark twin, 

Doubling the number of delightful shapes. 

Appointing to each thing its shadow, 

More charming often than itself. 

I praise thee, Sun! Thou sheddest roses on the air, 
Diamonds on the stream, enchantment on the hill ; 
A poor dull tree thou takest and turnest to green rapture, 
O Sun, without whose golden magic — things 
Would be no more than what they are! 

In the atmosphere of persecution and hatred 
Chantecler continues to hope and to work for his 
sublime mission of bringing the golden day. But 
his passion for the pheasant hen proves his Water- 
loo. It is through her that he grows weak, dis- 
closing his secret. Because of her he attends the 
silly five o'clock function at the guinea hen's, and 
is involved in a prize fight. His passion teaches 
him to understand life and the frailties of his fel- 
low creatures. He learns the greatest of all truths, 
— that " it is the struggle for, rather than the 
attainment of, the ideal, which must forever in- 
spire the sincere, honest idealist." Indeed, it is 
life which teaches Chantecler that if he cannot 
wake the dawn, he must rouse mankind to greet 
the sun. 

Chantecler finds himself in a trying situation 

Chantecler 1143 

when he comes into the gathering at the guinea 
hen's five o'clock tea, to meet the pompous, over- 
bearing cocks representing the various govern- 
ments. When he arrives in the midst of these 
distinguished society people, he is plied with the 
query, "How do you sing? Do you sing the 
Italian school or the French school or the German 
school?" Poor Chantecler, in the simplicity of 
his idealism, replies, '' I don't know how I sing, 
but I know why I sing." Why need the chante- 
clers know how they sing? They represent the 
truth, which needs no stylish clothes or expensive 
feathers. That is the difference between truth 
and falsehood. Falsehood must deck herself out 
beyond all semblance of nature and reality. 

Chantecler, I say . , . that these resplendent gen- 
tlemen are manufactured wares, the work of merchants 
with highly complex brains, who to fashion a ridiculous 
chicken have taken a wing from that one, a topknot from 
this. I say that in such Cocks nothing remains of the 
true Cock. They are Cocks of shreds and patches, idle 
bric-a-brac, fit to figure in a catalogue, not in a barnyard 
with its decent dunghill and its dog. I say that those 
befrizzled, beruffled, bedeviled Cocks were never stroked 
and cherished by Nature's maternal hand. . . . And I 
add that the whole duty of a Cock is to be an embodied 
crimson cry! And when a Cock is not that, it matters 
little that his comb be shaped like a toadstool, or his 
quills twisted like a screw, he will soon vanish and be 

144 Rostand 

heard of no more, having been nothing but a variety of 
a variety! 

The Game Cock appears. He greets Chante- 
cler with the announcement that he is the Cham- 
pion fighter, that he has killed so and so many 
Cocks in one day and an equal number on other 
occasions. Chantecler replies simply, ** I have 
never killed anything. But as I have at different 
times succored, defended, protected this one and 
that, I might perhaps be called, in my fashion, 

The fight begins. Chantecler is wounded and 
about to succumb, when suddenly all the guests 
present rush to Chantecler for protection : the com- 
mon enemy, the Hawk is seen to approach. 
Chantecler mistakes the cowardice of those who 
come to seek his aid, for friendship; but the 
moment the danger is over, the crowd again cir- 
cles around the fighters, inciting the Game Cock 
to kill Chantecler. But at the crirical moment the 
Game Cock mortally wounds himself with his own 
spurs, and is jeered and driven off the scene by the 
same mob that formerly cheered him on. Chante- 
cler, weak and exhausted from loss of blood, 
disillusioned and stung to the very soul, follows 
the pheasant hen to the Forest. 

Soon he finds himself a henpecked husband : he 
may not crow to his heart's content any more, he 

Chantecler 145 

may not wake the sun, for his lady love is jealous. 
The only time he can crow is when her eyes are 
closed in sleep. 

But leave it to the pheasant hen to ferret out a 
secret. Overhearing Chantecler^ s conversation 
with the woodpecker, she is furious. " I will 
not let the sun defraud me of my love," she 
cries. But Chantecler replies, ** There is no great 
love outside of the shadow of the ideal." She 
makes use of her beauty and charm to win him 
from the sun. She embraces him and pleads, 
" Come to my soft bosom. Why need you bother 
about the sun ? " 

Chantecler hears the nightingale and, like all 
great artists, he recognizes her wonderful voice, 
her inspiring powers compared with which his own 
must seem hard and crude. Suddenly a shot is 
heard, and the little bird falls dead to the ground. 
Chantecler is heart-broken. And as he mourns 
the sweet singer, the dawn begins to break. The 
pheasant hen covers him with her wing, to keep 
him from seeing the sun rise, and then mocks him 
because the sun has risen without his crowing. 
The shock is terrible to poor Chantecler, yet in 
his desperation he gives one tremendous cock-a- 

** Why are you crowing? " the hen asks. 

" As a warning to myself, for thrice have I 
denied the thing I love." 

146 Rostand 

Chantecler is in despair. But now he hears 
another Nightingale, more silvery and beautiful 
than the first. ** Learn, comrade, this sorrowful 
and reassuring fact, that no one. Cock of the morn- 
ing or evening nightingale, has quite the song of 
his dreams." 

A wonderful message, for there must always be 
" in the soul a faith so faithful that it comes back 
even after it has been slain." It is vital to under- 
stand that it is rather the consciousness that though 
we cannot wake the dawn, we must prepare the 
people to greet the rising sun. 



IN the preface to the English edition of 
" Damaged Goods," George Bernard Shaw 
relates a story concerning Lord Melbourne, 
in the early days of Queen Victoria. When 
the cabinet meeting threatened to break up in con- 
fusion, Lord Melbourne put his back to the door 
and said: ** Gentlemen, we can tell the house the 
truth or we can tell it a lie. I don't give a damn 
which it is. All I insist on is that we shall all tell 
the same lie, and you shall not leave the room until 
you have settled what it is to be." 

This seems to characterize the position of our 
middle-class morality to-day. Whether a thing 
be right or wrong, we are all to express the same 
opinion on the subject. All must agree on the 
same lie, and the lie upon which all agree, more 
than on any other, is the lie of purity , which must 
be kept up at all costs. 

How slow our moralists move is best proved by 
the fact that although the great scientist Neisser 
had discovered, as far back as 1879, that sup- 
posedly insignificant venereal afflictions are due to 


148 Brieux 

a malignant micro-organism often disastrous not 
only to the immediate victim, but also to those who 
come in touch with him, the subject is still largely 
tabooed and must not be discussed. 

To be sure, there is a small contingent of men 
and women who realize the necessity of a frank 
discussion of the very important matter of ven- 
ereal disease. But unfortunately they are attempt- 
ing to drive out the devil with fire. They are en- 
lightening the public as to the gravity of gonorrhea 
and syphilis, but are implanting an evil by no means 
less harmful, namely, the element of fear. The 
result often is that the victims who contract an in- 
fection are as little capable of taking care of them- 
selves now as in the past when they knew little 
about the subject. 

Brieux is among the few who treats the question 
in a frank manner, showing that the most danger- 
ous phase of venereal disease is i gnorance and fear, 
and that if treated openly and intelligently, it is 
perfectly curable. Brieux also emphasizes the im- 
portance of kindness and consideration for those 
who contract the affliction, since it has nothing to 
do with what is commonly called evil, immorality, 
or impurity. 

Therein lies the superiority of " Damaged 
Goods " to most scientific treatises. Without 
lacking logic and clarity, it has greater humanity 
and warmth. 

Damaged Goods 149 

But " Damaged Goods " contains more than an 
expose of venereal disease. It touches upon the 
whole of our social life. It points out the cold- 
blooded indifference of the rich toward those who 
do not belong to their class, to the poor, the 
workers, the disinherited whom they sacrifice with- 
out the slightest compunction on the altar of their 
own comforts. Moreover, the play also treats of 
the contemptible attitude towards love not backed 
by property or legal sanction. In short, it un- 
covers and exposes not only sexual disease but that 
which is even more terrible — our social disease, 
our social syphilis. 

George Dupont, the son of wealthy people, is 
informed by a specialist that he has contracted a 
venereal disease of a most serious nature; but that 
with patience and time he will be cured. Dupont 
is crushed by the news, and decides to blow out 
his brains. His only regret is that he cannot in 
the least account for his trouble. 

George. Vm not a rake, Doctor. My life might be 
held up as an example to all young men. I assure you, 
no one could possibly be more prudent, no one. Sec 
here; supposing I told you that in all my life I have only 
had two mistresses, what would you say to that? 

Doctor. That would have been enough to bring you 

George, No, Doctor. Not one of those two. No 

1 50 Brieux 

one in the world has dreaded this so much as I have; no 
one has taken such infinite precautions to avoid it. My 
first mistress was the wife of my best friend. I chose 
her on account of him ; and him, not because I cared most 
for him, but because I knew he was a man of the most 
rigid morals, who watched his wife jealously and didn't 
let her go about forming imprudent connections. As 
for her, I kept her in absolute terror of this disease. I 
told her that almost all men were taken with it, so that 
she mightn't dream of being false to me. My friend 
died in my arms. That was the only thing that could 
have separated me from her. Then I took up with a 
young seamstress. . . . Well, this was a decent girl with 
a family in needy circumstances to support. Her grand- 
mother was an invalid, and there was an ailing father and 
three little brothers. It was by my means that they all 
lived. ... I told her and I let the others know that if 
she played me false I should leave her at once. So then 
they all watched her for me. It became a regular thing 
that I should spend Sunday with them, and in that sort 
of way I was able to give her a lift up. Church-going 
was a respectable kind of outing for her. I rented a 
pew for them and her mother used to go with her to 
church; they liked seeing their name engraved on the 
card. She never left the house alone. Three months 
ago, when the question of my marriage came up, I had 
to leave her. 

Doctor, You were very happy, why did you want to 
change ? 

George. I wanted to settle down. My father was a 
notary, and before his death he expressed a wish that I 

Damaged Goods 151 

should marry my cousin. It was a good match; her 
dowry will help to get me a practice. Besides, I simply 
adore her. She's fond of me, too. I had everything one 
could want to make my life happy. And then a lot of 
idiots must give me a farewell dinner and make me gad 
about with them. See what has come of it! I haven't 
any luck, I've never had any luck! I know fellows who 
lead the most racketty life: nothing happens to them, 
the beasts ! But I — for a wretched lark — what is 
there left for a leper like me? My future is ruined, my 
whole life poisoned. Well then, isn't it better for me 
to clear out of it? Anyway, I shan't suffer any more. 
You see now, no one could be more wretched than I am. 

The doctor explains to him that there is no need 
for despair, but that he must postpone his mar- 
riage if he does not wish to ruin his wife and pos- 
sibly make her sterile for life. It is imperative 
especially because of the offspring, which is certain 
to be syphilitic. 

Doctor, Twenty cases identical with yours have been 
carefully observed — from the beginning to the end. 
Nineteen times — you hear, nineteen times in twenty — 
the woman was contaminated by her husband. You 
think that the danger is negligible: you think you have 
the right to let your wife take her chance, as you said, 
of being one of the exceptions for which we can do 
nothing! Very well then; then you shall know what 
you are doing. You shall know what sort of a disease 
it is that your wife will have five chances per cent, of 
contracting without so much as having her leave asked. 

152 Brieux 

. . . But there is not only your wife, — there are her 
children, your children, whom you may contaminate, too. 
It is in the name of those innocent little ones that I 
appeal to you; it is the future of the race that I am 

But George Dupont will not postpone the mar- 
riage for several years. He would have to give 
tan explanation, break his word, and lose his in- 
heritance, — things infinitely more important than 
any consideration for the girl he " adores " or for 
their children, should they have any. In short, 
he is actuated by the morality of the bourgeoisie : 
the silly conception of honor, the dread of public 
opinion and, above all, the greed for property. 

The second act is laid at the home of George 
Dupont. George and his wife Henriette are child- 
ishly happy, except for the regret that their mar- 
riage could not have taken place six months earlier 
because poor George had been declared consump- 
tive. How stupid of doctors to suspect the 
healthy strong George Dupont of consumption! 
But, then, " all doctors are stupid." But now that 
they are together, nothing shall part them in their 
great happiness, and especially in their great love 
for their baby. True, a little cloud obscures their 
sunny horizon. The baby is not very strong; but 
with the care and devotion of the grandmother, out 
in the country air, it is sure to recover. 

Damaged Goods 153 

The grandmother unexpectedly arrives, an- 
nouncing that she has brought the baby back to 
town : it is very ill and she has consulted a specialist 
who has promised to come at once to examine the 
child. Presently the doctor arrives. He insists 
that the wet nurse be dismissed immediately, as the 
child would infect her and she in return would in- 
fect her own husband and baby. Madame Dupont 
is scandalized. What, leave her precious grand- 
child! Rob him of the milk he needs! 

Mme. Dupont. If there is one way to save its life, 
It IS to give it every possible attention, and you want me 
to treat it in a way that you doctors condemn even for 
healthy children. You think I will let her die like that! 
Oh, I shall take good care she does not! Neglect the 
one Single thing that can save her! It would be crim- 
inal! As for the nurse, we will indemnify her. We 
will do everything in our power, everything but that. 

Doctor. This is not the first time I have found my- 
self in this situation, and I must begin by telling you 
that parents who have refused to be guided by my advice 
have invariably repented of it most bitterly. . . . You 
propose to profit by her ignorance and her poverty. Be- 
sides, she could obtain the assistance of the court. . . • 
You can convince yourself. In one or two cases the 
parents have been ordered to pay a yearly pension to the 
nurse; in the others sums of money varying from three 
to eight thousand francs. 

Mtne. Dupont. If we had to fight an action, we 
should retain the very best lawyer on our side. Thank 

154 Brieux 

heaven we are rich enough. No doubt he would make 
it appear doubtful whether the child hadn't caught this dis- 
ease from the nurse, rather than the nurse from the child. 

Indeed, what matters a peasant woman ! They 
are so numerous. In vain the doctor tries to con- 
vince Mme. Dupont that it is not a question of 
money. It is a question of humanity, of decency; 
he would not and could not be a party to such a 

After the doctor leaves to examine the child, 
Mme. Dupont and her worthy son clinch the bar- 
gain with the unsuspecting and ignorant servant. 
They tell her that the baby has a cold which it 
might communicate to her. The poor peasant girl 
had lived in the cold aU her life, and as she justly 
says:' " We of the country are not as delicate as 
the Parisian ladies." She realizes that a thou- 
sand francs would mean a great fortune to her, and 
that it would help her people to pay the mortgage 
and become independent. She consents to stay 
and signs away her health. 

The doctor returns with the dreaded news that 
the child has congenital syphilis. He informs 
them that with care and patience the child might 
be cured, but that it will have to be put on bottle 
milk, because otherwise It would be disastrous to 
the nurse. When he is told that the nurse has 
consented to remain, he grows indignant, declar- 

Damaged Goods fl55 

" You must not ask me to sacrifice the health of a young 
and strong woman to that of a sickly infant. I will be 
no party to giving this woman a disease that would em- 
bitter the lives of her whole family, and almost certainly 
render her sterile. Besides, I cannot even do it from a 
legal standpoint. . . . If you do not consent to have the 
child fed by handj I shall either speak to the nurse or 
give up the case" 

But there is no need for the doctor to interfere. 
Fortunately for the servant, she discovers the 
miserable transaction. She learns from the but- 
ler the real condition of the child, and announces 
to the Duponts that she must refuse to stay. " I 
know your brat isn't going to live. I know it's 
rotten through and through because its father's 
got a beastly disease that he caught from some 
woman of the streets." 

At this terrible moment the unsuspecting, light- 
headed and light-hearted mother, Henriette, ar- 
rives. She overhears the horrible news and falls 
screaming to the floor. 

The last act takes place in the hospital — the 
refuge of the unfortunate victims of poverty, ig- 
norance and false morality. M. Loche, the 
Deputy, is announced. The doctor is overjoyed 
because he believes that the representative of the 
people comes to inform himself of the causes of 
the widespread misery. But he is mistaken. 
M. Loche is the father-in-law of George Dupont. 

1 56 Brieux 

He wants to secure the signature of the doctor as 
evidence in the divorce sought by his daughter. 

Doctor. I regret that I am unable to furnish you 
with such a certificate. . . . The rule of professional 
secrecy is absolute. And I may add that even were I 
free, I should refuse your request. I should regret hav- 
ing helped you to obtain a divorce. It would be in your 
daughter's own interest that I should refuse. You ask 
me for a certificate in order to prove to the court that 
your son-in-law has contracted syphilis? You do not 
consider that in doing so you will publicly acknowledge 
that your daughter has been exposed to the infection. 
Do you suppose that after that your daughter is likely to 
find a second husband ? . . . Do you think that this poor 
little thing has not been unlucky enough in her start in 
life? She has been blighted physically. You wish be- 
sides indelibly to stamp her with the legal proof of con- 
genital syphilis. 

Lac he. Then what am I to do? 

Doctor. Forgive. . . . When the marriage was pro- 
posed you doubtless made inquiries concerning your 
future son-in-law's income; you investigated his securi- 
ties; you satisfied yourself as to his character. You only 
omitted one point, but it was the most important of all: 
you made no inquiries concerning his health. 

Loche. No, I did not do that. It is not the cus- 
tom. ... I think a law should be passed. 

Doctor, No, no! We want no new laws. There 
are too many already. All that is needed is for people 
to understand the nature of this disease rather better. 
It would soon become the custom for a man who pro- 

Damaged Goods I5f 

posed for a girl's hand to add to the other things for 
which he is asked a medical statement of bodily fitness, 
which would make it certain that he did not bring this 
plague into the family with him. . . . Well, there is 
one last argument which, since I must, I will put to you. 
Are you yourself without sin, that you are so relentless 
to others? 

Loche, I have never had any shameful disease, sir. 

Doctor. I was not asking you that. I was asking 
you if you had never exposed yourself to catching one. 
Ah, you see! Then it is not virtue that has saved you; 
It is luck. Few things exasperate me more than that 
term "sjiameful disease," which you used just now. 
This disease is like all other diseases: it is one of our 
afflictions. There is no shame in being wretched — even 
if one deserves to be so. Come, come, let us have a little 
plain speaking! I should like to know how many of 
these rigid moralists, who are so shocked with their mid- 
dle-class prudery, that they dare not mention the name 
syphilis, or when they bring themselves to speak of it do 
so with expressions of every sort of disgust, and treat its 
victims as criminals, have never run the risk of contract- 
ing it themselves? It is those alone who have the right 
to talk. How many do you think there are? Four out 
of a thousand? Well, leave those four aside: between 
all the rest and those who catch the disease there is no 
difference but chance, and by heavens, those who escape 
won't get much sympathy from me: the others at least 
have paid their fine of suffering and remorse, while they 
have gone scot free! Let's have done, if you please, 
once for all with this sort of hypocrisy. 

1 58 Brieux 

The doctor, who is not only a sincere scientist 
but also a humanitarian, realizes that as things 
are to-day no one Is exempt from the possibility 
of contracting an infection; that those who are 
responsible for the spread of the disease are they 
who constantly excuse themselves with the inane 
" I did not kno w," as if ignorance were not the 
crime of all crimes. The doctor demonstrates to 
M. Loche a number of cases under his observation, 
all of them the result of ignorance and of poverty. 

There is, for instance, the woman whose hus- 
band died of the disease. He " didn't know " ; 
so he infected her. She, on the other hand, is 
poor and cannot afford the treatment she needs. 
A private physician is beyond her means, and she 
has too much pride to stand the indignities heaped 
upon the poor who are at the mercy of dispensaries 
and charity. Therefore she neglects her disease 
and perhaps is unconsciously instrumental in in- 
fecting others. 

fThen there is the man whose young son has con- 
tracted the disease. His father " didn't know," 
and therefore he did not inform his son, as a re- 
sult of which the boy became half paralyzed. 

Man. We are small trades-people; we have regularly 
bled ourselves in order to send him to college, and 
now — I only wish the same thing mayn't happen to 
others. It was at the very college gates that my poor 
boy was got hold of by one of these women. Is it right, 

Damaged Goods 159 

sir, that that should be allowed? Aren't there enough 
police to prevent children of fifteen from being seduced 
like that? I ask, is it right? 

The poor man, in his ignorance, did not know 
that " these women " are the most victimized, as 
demonstrated by the doctor himself in the case of 
the poor girl^ oL_the^ s5;?.et- _ ^^^ was both ig- 
norant and innocent when she found a place as 
domestic servant and was seduced by her master. 
Then she was kicked out into the street, and in 
her endless search for work found every door 
closed in her face. She was compelled to stifle 
her feeling of motherhood, to send her baby to a 
foundling asylum, and finally, in order to exist, be- 
come a street-walker. If in return she infected 
the men who came to her, including her erstwhile 
seducer, she was only paying back in a small 
measure what society had done to her, — the in- 
jury, the bitterness, the misery and tears heaped 
upon her by a cruel and self-satisfied world. 

It is to be expected that a political representa- 
tive of the people like Loche should suggest the 
same stereotyped measures as his predecessors: 
legal enactments, prosecution, imprisonment. But 
the doctor, a real social student, knows that " the 
true remedy lies in a change of our ways." 

Doctor. Syphilis must cease to be treated like a mys- 
terious evil, the very name of which cannot be pro- 

'l6o Brieux 

nounced. . . . People ought to be taught that there is 
nothing immoral in the act that reproduces life by means 
of love. But for the benefit of our children we organize 
round about it a gigantic conspiracy of silenc e* A re- 
spectable man will take his son and daughter to one of 
these grand music halls, where they will hear things of 
the most loathsome description; but he won't let them 
hear a word spoken seriously on the subject of the great 
act of love. The mystery and humbug in which phy- 
sical facts are enveloped ought to be swept away and 
young men be given some pride in the creative power 
with which each one of us is endowed. 

In other words, what we need is more general 
enlightenment, greater frankness and, above all, 
different social and economic conditions. The 
revolutionary significance of " Damaged Goods " 
consists in the lesson that not syphilis but the causes 
that lead to it are the terrible curse of society. 
Those who rant against syphilis and clamor for 
more laws, for marriage certificates, for registra- 
tion and segregation, do not touch even the sur- 
face of the evil. Brieux is among the very few 
modern dramatists who go to the bottom of this 
question by insisting on a complete social and 
economic change, which alone can free us from 
the scourge of syphilis and other social plagues. 

Maternity i6l 


Motherhood to-day is on the lips of every 
penny-a-liner, every social patch-worker and polit- 
ical climber. It is so much prated about that one 
is led to believe that motherhood, in its present con- 
dition, is a force for good. It therefore re- 
quired a free spirit combined with great dramatic 
power to tear the mask off the lying face of 
motherhood, that we may see that, whatever its 
possibilities in a free future, motherhood is to-day 
a sickly tree setting forth diseased branches. For 
its sake thousands of women are being sacrificed 
and children sent into a cold and barren world 
without the slightest provision for their physical 
and mental needs. It was left to Brieux to in- 
scribe with letters of fire the crying shame of the 
motherhood of to-day. 

Brignac, a provincial lawyer and an unscrupu- 
lous climber for political success, represents the 
typical pillar of society. He believes implicitly 
in the supremacy of God over the destiny of man. 
He swears by the State and the army, and cringes 
before the power of money. Naturally he is the 
champion of large families as essential to the wel- 
fare of society, and of motherhood, as the most 
sacred and sole function of woman. 

He is the father of three children, all of whom 
are in a precarious condition. He resents the idea 

1 62 Brieux 

that society ought to take care of the children 
already in existence, rather than continue indis- 
criminately breeding more. Brignac himself 
wants more children. In vain his wife Lucie, 
weakened by repeated pregnancies, pleads with 
him for a respite. 

Lucie. Listen, Julien, since we are talking about this. 
I wanted to tell you — I haven't had much leisure since 
our marriage. We have not been able to take advantage 
of a single one of your holidays. I really have a right 
to a little rest. . . . Consider, we have not had any time 
to know one another, or to love one another. Besides, 
remember that we already have to find dowries for three 

Brignac, I tell you this is going to be a boy. 

Lucie. A boy is expensive. 

Brignac. We are going to be rich? 

Lucie. How ? 

Brignac. Luck may come in several ways. I may stay 
in the civil service and get promoted quickly. I may go 
back to the bar. ... I am certain we shall be rich. 
After all, it's not much good your saying so, if I say yes. 

Lucie. Evidently. My consent was asked for before 

I was given a husband, but my consent is not asked for 

! before I am given a child. . . . This is slavery — yes, 

{slavery. After all you are disposing of my health, my 

sufferings, my life — of a year of my existence, calmly, 

without consulting me. 

Brignac. Do I do it out of selfishness? Do you sup- 
pose I am not a most unhappy husband all the time I 

Maternity [163 

have a future mother at my side instead of a loving 
wife? ... A father is a man all the same. 

Lucie, Rubbish! You evidently take me for a fool. 
I know what you do at those times. . . . Don't deny it. 
You must see that I know all about it. . . . Do you want 
me to tell you the name of the person you go to see over 
at Villeneuve, while I am nursing or " a future mother/* 
as you call it? We had better say no more about it. 

Brignac goes off to his political meeting to pro- 
claim to his constituency the sacredness of mother- 
hood, — the deepest and highest function of 

Lucie has a younger sister, Annette, a girl of 
eighteen. Their parents being dead, Lucie takes 
the place of the mother. She is passionately fond 
of her little sister and makes it her purpose to 
keep the girl sheltered and protected from the 
outside world. Annette arrives and announces 
with great enthusiasm that the son of the wealthy 
Bernins has declared his love and asked her to 
marry him, and that his mother, Mme. Bernin, 
is coming to talk the matter over with Lucie. 

Mme. Bernin does arrive, but not for the pur- 
pose poor Annette had hoped. Rather is it to 
tell Lucie that her son cannot marry the girl. 
Oh, not because she Isn't beautiful, pure or at- 
tractive. Indeed not I Mme. Bernin herself 
says that her son could not wish for a more suit- 
able match. But, then, she has no money, and 

164 Brieux 

her son must succeed in the world. He must ac- 
quire social standing and position; that cannot be 
hacj without money. When Lucie pleads with her 
that after all the Bernins themselves had begun at 
the bottom, and that it did not prevent their being 
happy, Mme, 5^m« replies: 

No, no; we are not happy, because we have worn our- 
selves out hunting after happiness. We wanted to " get 
on," and we got on. But what a price we paid for it! 
First, when we were both earning wages, our life was 
one long drudgery of petty economy and meanness. 
When we set up on our own account, we lived in an 
atmosphere of trickery, of enmity, of lying; flattering the 
customers, and always in terror of bankruptcy. Oh, I 
know the road to fortune! It means tears, lies, envy, 
hate; one suffers — and one makes other people suffer. 
I have had to go through it : my children shan't. We've 
only had two children: we meant only to have one. 
Having two we had to be doubly hard upon ourselves. 
Instead of a husband and wife helping one another, we 
have been partners spying upon one another; calling one 
another to account for every little expenditure or 
stupidity; and on our very pillows disputing about our 
business. That's how we got rich; and now we can't 
enjoy our money because we don't know how to use it; 
and we aren't happy because our old age is made bitter 
by the memories and the rancor left by the old bad days; 
because we have suffered too much and hated too much. 
My children shall not go through this. I endured it that 
they might be spared. 

Maternity 165 

Learning the price Mme. Bernin has paid for 
her wealth, we need not blame her for turning a 
deaf ear to the entreaties of Lucie in behalf of 
her sister. Neither can Lucie be held responsible 
for her stupidity in keeping her sister in ignorance 
until she was incapable of protecting herself when 
the occasion demanded. Poor Annette, one of 
the many offered up to the insatiable monster of 
Ignorance and social convention I 

When Annette is informed of the result of 
Mme. Bernin's visit, the girl grows hysterical, 
and Lucie learns that her little sister is about to 
become a mother. Under the pretext of love and 
marriage- young, pampered Jaques Bernin has 
taken advantage of the girl's inexperience and in- 
nocence. In her despair Annette rushes out in 
search of her lover, only to be repelled by him 
in a vulgar and cruel manner. She then attempts 
suicide by trying to throw herself under the train 
which is to carry off her worthless seducer. She 
is rescued by the faithful nurse Catherine, and 
brought back to her anxious sister Lucie. Ann- 
ette, in great excitement, relates: 

Annette, You'll never guess what he said. He got 
angry, and he began to abuse me. He said he guessed 
what I was up to; that I wanted to make a scandal to 
force him to marry me — oh, he spared me nothing — to 
force him to marry me because he was rich. And when 
that made me furious, he threatened to call the police! 

1 66 Brieux 

I ought to have left him, run away, come home, oughtn^t 
I ? But I couldn't believe it of him all at once, like that! 
And I couldn't go away while I had any hope. ... As 
long as I was holding to his arm it was as if I was en- 
gaged. When he was gone I should only be a miserable 
ruined girl, like dozens of others. . . . My life was at 
stake : and to save myself I went down into the very low- 
est depths of vileness and cowardice. I cried, I im- 
plored. I lost all shame. . . . What he said then I can- 
not tell you — not even you — it was too much — too 
much — I did not understand at first. It was only after- 
wards, coming back, going over all his words, that I made 
out what he meant. . . . Then he rushed to the train, 
and jumped into a carriage, and almost crushed my fin- 
gers in the door; and he went and hid behind his mother, 
and she threatened, too, to have me arrested. ... I wish 
I was dead ! Lucie, dear, I don*t want to go through all 
that's coming — I am too little — I am too weak, I'm 
too young to bear it. Really, I haven't the strength. 

But Lucie has faith in her husband. In all the 
years of their married life she has heard him pro- 
claim from the very housetops that motherhood is 
the most sacred function of woman; that the State 
needs large numbers ; that commerce and the army 
require an increase of the population, and ** the 
government commands you to further this end to 
the best of your ability, each one of you in his own 
commune." She has heard her husband repeat, 
over and over again, that the woman who refuses 
to abide by the command of God and the laws to 

Maternity 167 

become a mother is immoral, is criminal. Surely 
he would understand the tragedy of Annette, who 
had been placed in this condition not through her 
own fault but because she had been confiding and 
trusting in the promise of the man. Surely Brig- 
nac would come to the rescue of Annette; would 
help and comfort her in her trying and difficult 
moment. But Lucie, like many wives, does not 
know her husband ; she does not know that a man 
who is so hide-bound by statutes and codes cannot 
have human compassion, and that he will not stand 
by the little girl who has committed the " unpar- 
donable sin." Lucie does not know, but she is 
soon to learn the truth. 

Lucie. I tell you Annette is the victim of this wretch. 
If you are going to do nothing but insult her, we had 
better stop discussing the matter. 

Brtgnac, I am in a nice fix now! There is nothing 
left for us but to pack our trunks and be off. I am done 
for. Ruined! Smashed! I tell you if she was caught 
red handed stealing, the wreck wouldn't be more complete. 
. . . We must make some excuse. We will invent an 
aunt or cousin who has invited her to stay. I will find a 
decent house for her in Paris to go to. Shell be all right 
there. When the time comes she can put the child out 
to nurse in the country, and come back to us. 

Lucie, You seriously propose to send that poor child 
to Paris, where she doesn't know a soul? 

Brignac. What do you mean by that? I will go to 
Paris myself, if necessary. There are special boarding 

1 68 Brieux 

houses: very respectable ones. FU inquire: of course 
without letting out that it is for anyone I know. And 
I'll pay what is necessary. What more can you want? 

Lucie. Just when the child is most in need of every 
care, you propose to send her off alone; alone, do you un- 
derstand, alone! To tear her away from here, put her 
into a train, and send her off to Paris, like a sick animal 
you want to get rid of. If I consented to that I should 
feel that I was as bad as the man who seduced her. Be 
honest, Julien: remember it is in our interest you pro- 
pose to sacrifice her. We shall gain peace and quiet at 
the price of her loneliness and despair. To save our- 
selves — serious troubles, I admit -^ we are to abandon 
this child to strangers . . . away from all love and care 
and comfort, without a friend to put kind arms around 
her and let her sob her grief away. I implore you, 
Julien, I entreat you, for our children's sake, don't keep 
me from her, don't ask me to do this shameful thing. 

Brignac. There would have been no question of mis- 
ery if she had behaved herself. 

Lucie. She is this man's victim! But she won't go. 
You'll have to drive her out as you drove out the serv- 
ant. . . . And then — after that — she is to let her child 
go; to stifle her strongest instinct; to silence the cry of 
love that consoles us all for the tortures we have to go 
through ; to turn away her eyes and say, " Take him away, 
I don't want him." And at that price she is to be 
forgiven for another person's crime. . . . Then that is 
Society's welcome to the new born child? 

Brignac. To the child bom outside of marriage, yes. 
If it wasn't for that, there would soon be nothing but 

Maternity 169 

illegitimate births. It is to preserve the family that 
society condemns the natural child. 

Lucie. You say you want a larger number of births, 
and at the same time you say to women : " No mother- 
hood without marriage, and no marriage without money." 
As long as you've not changed that, all your circulars will 
be met with shouts of derision — half from hate, half 
from pity. ... If you drive Annette out, I shall go with 

Lucie and Annette go out into the world. As 
middle-class girls they have been taught a little 
of everything and not much of anything. They 
try all kinds of work to enable them to make a 
living, but though they toil hard and long hours, 
they barely earn enough for a meager existence. 
As long as Annette's condition Is not noticeable, 
life is bearable; but soon everybody remarks her 
state. She and Lucie are driven from place to 
place. In her despair Annette does what many 
girls in her position have done before her and will 
do after her so long as the Brignacs and their 
morality are dominant. She visits a midwife, and 
one more victim is added to the large number 
slaughtered upon the altar of morality. 

The last act Is In the court room. Mme. 
Thomas, the midwife, is on trial for criminal 
abortion. With her are a number of women 
whose names have been found on her register. 

Bit by bit we learn the whole tragedy of each of 

170 Brieux 

the defendants ; we see all the sordidness of pov- 
erty, the inability to procure the bare necessities of 
life, and the dread of the unwelcome child. 

A schoolmistress, although earning: a few hun- 
dred francs, and living with her husband, is com- 
pelled to have an abortion performed because an- 
other child would mean hunger for all of them. 

Schoolmistress. We just managed to get along by 
being most careful; and several times we cut down ex- 
penses it did not seem possible to cut down. A third 
child coming upset everything. We couldn't have lived. 
We should have all starved. Besides, the inspectors and 
directresses don't like us to have many children, espe- 
cially if we nurse them ourselves. They told me to hide 
myself when I was suckling the last one. I only had ten 
minutes to do it in, at the recreation, at ten o'clock and 
at two o'clock ; and when my mother brought baby to me 
I had to shut myself up with him in a dark closet. 

The couple Tupin stand before the bar to de- 
fend themselves against the charge of criminal 
abortion. Tupin has been out of work for a long 
time and is driven by misery to drink. He is 
known to the police as a disreputable character. 
One of his sons is serving a sentence for theft, 
and a daughter Is a woman of the streets. But 
Tupin is a thinking man. He proves that his 
earnings at best are not enough to supply the 
needs of an already large family. The daily 
nourishment of five children consists of a four- 

Maternity 171 

pound loaf, soup of vegetables and dripping, and 
a stew which costs 90 centimes. Total, 3f. 75c. 
This Is the expenditure of the father: Return 
ticket for tram, 30c. Tobacco, 15c. Dinner, 
I f. 25 c. The rent, 3 oof. Clothing for the whole 
family, and boots : 1 6 pairs of boots for the chil- 
dren at 4f. 50c. each, 4 for the parents at 8f., 
total again 30of. Total for the year, 2,6oof. 
Tupin, who is an exceptional workman, earns i6of. 
a month, that is to say, 2,1 oof. a year. There is 
therefore an annual deficit of 50of., provided 
Tupin keeps at work all the time, which never 
happens in the life of a workingman. Under such 
circumstances no one need be surprised that one of 
his children is imprisoned for theft, and the other 
is walking the streets, while Tupin himself Is 
driven to drink. 

Tupin. When we began to get short in the house, my 
wife and I started to quarrel. Every time a child came 
we were mad at making it worse for the others. And 
so ... I ended up in the saloon. It's warm there, and 
you can't hear the children crying nor the mother com- 
plaining. And besides, when you have drink in you, you 
forget. . . . And that's how we got poorer and poorer. 
My fault, if you like. . . . Our last child was a cripple. 
He was born in starvation, and his mother was worn out. 
And they nursed him, and they nursed him, and they 
nursed him. They did not leave him a minute. They 
made him live in spite of himself. And they let the other 

172 Brieux 

children — the strong ones — go to the bad. With half 
the money and the fuss they wasted on the cripple, they 
could have made fine fellows of all the others. 

Mme, Tupin. I have to add that all this is not my 
fault. My husband and I worked like beasts; we did 
without every kind of pleasure to try and bring up our 
children. If we had wanted to slave more, I declare to 
you we couldn't have done it. And now that we have 
given our lives for them, the oldest is in hospital, ruined 
and done for because he worked in " a dangerous trade " 
as they call it. . . . There are too many people in the 
world. . . . My little girl had to choose between starva- 
tion and the street. . . . Fm only a poor woman, and I 
know what it means to have nothing to eat, so I forgave 

Thus Mme. Tupin also understands that it is 
a crime to add one more victim to those who are 
born ill and for whom society has no place. 

Then Lucie faces the court, — Lucie who loved 
her sister too well, and who, driven by the same 
conditions that killed Annette, has also been 
compelled to undergo an abortion rather than have 
a fourth child by the man she did not love any 
more. Like the Schoolmistress and the Tupins, 
she is dragged before the bar of justice to explain 
her crime, while her husband, who had forced 
both Annette and Lucie out of the house, has 
meanwhile risen to a high position as a supporter 

Maternity 173 

of the State with his favorite slogan, " Mother- 
hood is the highest function of woman." 

Finally the midwife Thomas is called upon for 
her defense. 

Thomas. A girl came to me one day; she was a serv- *, 
ant. She had been seduced by her master. I refused to 1 
do what she asked me to do: she went and drowned her- j 
self. Another I refused to help was brought up before \ 
you here for infanticide. Then when the others came, I 
said, " Yes." I have prevented many a suicide and many ! 
a crime. 

It is not likely that the venerable judge, the 
State's attorney or the gentlemen of the jury can 
see in Mme. Thomas a greater benefactress to 
society than they; any more than they can grasp 
the deep importance of the concluding words of 
the counsel for the defense in this great social trag- 

Counsel for the Defense, Their crime is not an indi- 
vidual crime; it is a social crime. ... It is not a crime 
against nature. It is a revolt against nature. And w^ith 
all the warmth of a heart melted by pity, with all the 
indignation of my outraged reason, I look for that glori- 
ous hour of liberation when some master mind shall dis- 
cover for us the means of having only the children we 
need and desire, release forever from the prison of hypoc- 
risy and absolve us from the profanation of love. That 
would indeed be a conquest of nature — savage nature — 

174 Brieux 

which pours out life with culpable profusion, and sees it 
disappear with indifference. 

Surely there can be no doubt as to the revolu- 
tionary significance of " Maternity " : the demand 
that woman must be given means to prevent con- 
ception of undesired and unloved children; that 
she must become free and strong to choose the 
father of her child and to decide the number of 
children she is to bring into the world, and under 
what conditions. That is the only kind of mother- 
hood which can endure. 


** "^ AM not an ordinary playwright in general 
practice. I am a specialist in immoral and 
heretical plays. My reputation has been 
gained by my persistent struggle to force 
the public to reconsider its morals. In particular, 
I regard much current morality as to economic and 
sexual relations as disastrously wrong; and I regard 
certain doctrines of the Christian religion as under- 
stood in England to-day with abhorrence. I write 
plays with the deliberate object of converting the 
nation to my opinions in these matters." 

This confession of faith should leave no doubt 
as to the place of George Bernard Shaw in modern 
dramatic art. Yet, strange to say, he is among the 
most doubted of his time. That is partly due to 
the fact that humor generally serves merely to 
amuse, touching only the lighter side of life. But 
there is a kind of humor that fills laughter with 
tears, a humor that eats into the soul like acid, leav- 
ing marks often deeper than those made by the 
tragic form. 

There is another reason why Shaw's sincerity is 
regarded lightly : it is to be found in the difference 


176 George Bernard Shaw 

of his scope as propagandist and as artist. As the 
propagandist Shaw is limited, dogmatic, and set. 
Indeed, the most zealous Puritan could not be more 
antagonistic to social theories differing from his 
own. But the artist, if he is sincere at all, must go 
to life as the source of his inspiration, and life is 
beyond dogmas, beyond the House of Commons, 
beyond even the '* eternal and irrevocable law " of 
the materialistic conception of history. If, then, 
the Socialist propagandist Shaw is often lost in the 
artist Shaw, it is not because he lacks sincerity, but 
because life will not be curtailed. 

It may be contended that Shaw is much more the 
propagandist than the artist because he paints in 
loud colors. But that is rather because of the in- 
dolence of the human mind, especially of the An- 
glo-Saxon mind, which has settled down snugly to 
the self-satisfied notion of its purity, justice, and 
charity, so that naught but the strongest current of 
light will make it wince. In " Mrs. Warren's Pro- 
fession " and ** Major Barbara," George Ber- 
nard Shaw has accomplished even more. He has 
pulled off the mask of purity and Christian kind- 
ness that we may see their hidden viciousness at 


Mrs. Warren is engaged in a profession which 
has existed through all the ages. It was at home 

Mrs. Warren's Profession 177 

in Egypt, played an important role in Greece and 
Rome, formed one of the influential guilds in the 
Middle Ages, and has been one of the main sources 
of income for the Christian Church. 

But it was left to modern times to make of Mrs. 
Warren's profession a tremendous social factor, 
ministering to the needs of man in every station of 
life, from the brownstone mansion to the hovel, 
from the highest official to the poorest drag. 

Time was when the Mrs. Warrens were looked 
upon as possessed by the devil, — lewd, depraved 
creatures who would not, even if they had the 
choice, engage in any other profession, because 
they are vicious at heart, and should therefore be 
held up to condemnation and obloquy. And 
while we continue to drive them from pillar to 
post, while we still punish them as criminals and 
deny them the simplest humanities one gives even 
to the dumb beast, the light turned on this subject 
by men like George Bernard Shaw has helped to 
expose the lie of inherent evil tendencies and nat- 
ural depravity. Instead we learn : 

Mrs. Warren, Do you think I did what I did be- 
cause I liked it, or thought it right, or wouldn't rather 
have gone to college and been a lady if Fd had the 
chance? . . . Oh, it's easy to talk, very easy, isn't it? 
Here ! — , Would you like to know what my circum- 
stances were? D'you know what your gran'mother was? 
No, you don't. I do. She called herself a widow and 

178 George Bernard Shaw 

had a fried-fish shop down by the Mint, and kept her- 
self and four daughters out of it. Two of us were sis- 
ters : that was me and Liz ; and we were both good look- 
ing and well made. I suppose our father was a well fed 
man: mother pretended he was a gentleman; but I don't 
know. The other two were only half sisters — under- 
sized, ugly, starved, hard working, honest poor creatures: 
Liz and I would have half murdered them if mother 
hadn't half murdered us to keep our hands off them. 
They were the respectable ones. Well, what did they 
get by their respectability? I'll tell you. One of them 
worked in a whitelead factory twelve hours a day for 
nine shillings a week until she died of lead poisoning. 
She only expected to get her hands a little paralyzed; 
but she died. The other was always held up to us as a 
model because she married a Government laborer in the 
Deptford victualling yard, and kept his room and the 
three children neat and tidy on eighteen shillings a week 
— until he took to drink. That was worth being re- 
spectable for, wasn't it? 

Vivie, Did you and your sister think so? 

Mrs, Warren. Liz didn't, I can tell you; she had 
more spirit. We both went to a Church School — that 
was part of the lady-like airs we gave ourselves to be 
superior to the children that knew nothing and went no- 
where — and we stayed there until Liz went out one 
night and never came back. I knew the schoolmistress 
thought I'd soon follow her example; for the clergyman 
was always warning me that Lizzie 'd end by jumping 
off Waterloo Bridge. Poor fool: that was all that he 
knew about it! But I was more afraid of the whitelead 

Mrs. Warren's Profession 179 

factory than I was of the river; and so would you have 
been in my place. That clergyman got me a situation as 
a scullery maid in a temperance restaurant where they 
sent out for anything you liked. Then I was waitress; 
and then I went to the bar at Waterloo Station — four- 
teen hours a day serving drinks and washing glasses for 
four shillings a week and my board. That was consid- 
ered a great promotion for me. Well, one cold, wretched 
night, when I was so tired I could hardly keep myself 
awake, who should come up for a half of Scotch but 
Lizzie, in a long fur cloak, elegant and comfortable, with 
a lot of sovereigns in her purse. 

Vivie, My aunt Lizzie? 

Mrs, Warren, Yes. . . . She's living down at Win- 
chester, now, close to the cathedral, one of the most re- 
spectable ladies there — chaperones girls at the country 
ball, if you please. No river for Liz, thank you! You 
remind me of Liz a little: she was a first-rate business 
woman — saved money from the beginning — never let 
herself look too like what she was — never lost her head 
or threw away a chance. When she saw Fd grown up 
good-looking she said to me across the bar: "What are 
you doing there, you little fool? Wearing out your 
health and your appearance for other people's profit ! " 
Liz was saving money then to take a house for herself 
in Brussels: and she thought we two could save faster 
than one. So she lent me some money and gave me a 
start; and I saved steadily and first paid her back, and 
then went into business with her as her partner. Why 
shouldn't I have done it? The house in Brussels was 
real high class — a much better place for a woman to 

i8o George Bernard Shaw 

be in than the factory where Anne Jane got poisoned. 
None of our girls were ever treated as I was treated in 
the scullery of that temperance place, or at the Waterloo 
bar, or at home. Would you have had me stay in them 
and become a worn-out old drudge before I was forty? 
. . . Yes, saving money. But where can a woman get the 
money to save in any other business? Could you save 
out of four shillings a week and keep yourself dressed 
as well? Not you. Of course, if you're a plain woman 
and can't earn anything more: or if you have a turn for 
music, or the stage, or newspaper writing: that's diiler- 
ent. But neither Liz nor I had any turn for such things : 
all we had was our appearance and our turn for pleas- 
ing men. Do you think we were such fools as to let 
other people trade in our good looks by employing us as 
shop-girls, or barmaids, or waitresses, when we could 
trade in them ourselves and get all the profits instead of 
starvation wages? Not likely. . . . Everybody dislikes 
having to work and make money; but they have to do it 
all the same. I'm sure I've often pitied a poor girl, tired 
out and in low spirits, having to try to please some man 
that she doesn't care two straws for — some half-drunken 
fool that thinks he's making himself agreeable when he's 
teasing and worrying and disgusting a woman so that 
hardly any money could pay her for putting up with it. 
But she has to bear vdth disagreeables and take the rough 
with the smooth, just like a nurse in a hospital or any- 
one else. It's not work that any woman would do for 
pleasure, goodness knows; though to hear the pious peo- 
ple talk you would suppose it was a bed of roses. Of 
course it's worth while to a poor girl, if she can resist 

Mrs. Warren's Profession l8i 

temptation and is good looking and well-conducted and 
sensible. It*s far better than any other employment open 
to her. I always thought that oughtn't to be. It can't 
be right, Vivie, that there shouldn't be better opportu- 
nities for women. I stick to that: It's wrong. But it's 
so, right or wrong; and a girl must make the best of it. 
But, of course, it's not worth while for a lady. If you 
took to it you'd be a fool; but I should have been a fool 
if Fd taken to anything else. . . . Why am I independ- 
ent and able to give my daughter a first-rate education, 
when other women that had just as good opportunities 
are in the gutter? Because I always knew how to re- 
spect myself and control myself. Why is Liz looked up 
to in a cathedral town? The same reason. Where 
would we be now if we'd minded the clergyman's foolish- 
ness? Scrubbing floors for one and sixpence a day and 
nothing to look forward to but the workhouse infirmary. 
Don't you be led astray by people who don't know the 
world, my girl. The only way for a woman to provide 
for herself decently is for her to be good to some man 
that can afford to be good to her. If she's in his own 
station of life, let her make him marry her; but if she's 
far beneath him, she can't expect it — why should she? 
It wouldn't be for her own happiness. Ask any lady in 
London society that has daughters ; and she'll tell you the 
same, except that I tell you straight and she'll tell you 
crooked. That's all the difference. . . • It's only good 
manners to be ashamed of it ; it's expected from a woman. 
Women have to pretend a great deal that they don't feel. 
Liz used to be angry with me for plumping out the truth 
about it. She used to say that when every woman would 

1 82 George Bernard Shaw 

learn enough from what was going on in the world before 
her eyes, there was no need to talk about it to her. But 
then Liz was such a perfect lady! She had the true in- 
stinct of It; while I was always a bit of a vulgarian. I 
used to be so pleased when you sent me your photographs 
to see that you were growing up like Liz ; youVe just her 
lady-like determined way. But I can*t stand saying one 
thing when everyone knows I mean another. What's the 
use in such hypocrisy? If people arrange the world that 
way for women, there's no use pretending that it's ar- 
ranged the other way. I never was a bit ashamed really. 
I consider that I had a right to be proud that we man- 
aged everything so respectably, and never had a word 
against us, and that the girls were so well taken care of. 
Some of them did very well: one of them married an 
ambassador. But of course now I daren't talk about 
such things: whatever would they think of us. 

No, it IS not respectable to talk about these 
things, because respectability cannot face the 
truth. Yet everybody knows that the majority 
of women, *' if they wish to provide for them- 
selves decently must be good to some man that 
can afford to be good to them." The only differ- 
ence then between Sister Liz, the respectable girl, 
and Mrs. Warren, is hypocrisy and legal sanc- 
tion. Sister Liz uses her money to buy back her 
reputation from the Church and Society. The re- 
spectable girl uses the sanction of the Church to 
buy a decent income legitimately, and Mrs, Witr- 

Mrs. Warren^s Profession 183 

ren plays her game without the sanction of either. 
Hence she is the greatest criminal in the eyes of 
the world. Yet Mrs. Warren is no less human 
than most other women. In fact, as far as her 
love for her daughter Vivian is concerned, she is 
a superior sort of mother. That her daughter 
may not have to face the same alternative as she, 
— slave in a scullery for four shillings a week — 
Mrs. Warren surrounds the girl with comfort 
and ease, gives her an education, and thereby es- 
tablishes between her child and herself an abyss 
which nothing can bridge. Few respectable 
mothers would do as much for their daughters. 
However, Mrs. Warren remains the outcast, 
while all those who benefit by her profession, in- 
cluding even her daughter Vivian^ move in the 
best circles. 

Sir John Crofts, Mrs. Warren's business part- 
ner, who has invested 40,000 pounds in Mrs. 
Warren^ s house, drawing an income of 35 per 
cent, out of it in the worst years, is a recognized 
pillar of society and an honored member of his 
class. Why not 1 

Crofts. The fact is, it's not what would be considered 
exactly a high-class business in my set — the county set, 
you know. . . • Not that there is any mystery about it: 
don't think that. Of course you know by your mother's 
being in it that it's perfectly straight and honest. I've 
known her for many years; and I can say of her that 

184 George Bernard Shaw 

she'd cut off her hands sooner than touch anything that 
was not what it ought to be. . • . But you see you can't 
mention such things in society. Once let out the word 
hotel and everybody says you keep a public-house. You 
wouldn't like people to say that of your mother, would 
you? That's why we're so reserved about it. . . . Don't 
turn up your nose at business, Miss Vivie: where would 
your Newnhams and Girtons be without it? . . . You 
wouldn't refuse the acquaintance of my mother's cousin, 
the Duke of Belgravia, because some of the rents he gets 
are earned in queer ways. You wouldn't cut the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, I suppose, because the Ecclesiasti- 
cal Commissioners have a few publicans and sinners 
among their tenants? Do you remember your Crofts 
scholarship at Newnham? Well, that was founded by 
my brother the M.P. He gets his 22 per cent, out of a 
factory with 600 girls in it, and not one of them getting 
wages enough to live on. How d' ye suppose most of 
them manage? Ask your mother. And do you expect 
me to turn my back on 35 per cent, when all the rest are 
pocketing what they can, like sensible men? No such 
fool! If you're going to pick and choose your acquaint- 
ances on moral principles, you'd better clear out of this 
country, unless you want to cut yourself out of all decent 
society. . . . The world isn't such a bad place as the 
croakers make out. So long as you don't fly openly in 
the face of society, society doesn't ask any inconvenient 
questions; and it makes precious short work of the cads 
who do. There are no secrets better kept than the 
secrets that everybody guesses. In the society I can in- 
troduce you to, no lady or gentleman would so far forget 

Mrs. Warren's Profession 185 

themselves as to discuss my business affairs or your 

Indeed, no lady or gentleman would discuss the 
profession of Mrs. Warren and her confreres. 
But they partake of the dividends. When the 
evil becomes too crying, they engage in vice cru- 
sades, and call down the wrath of the Lord and 
the brutality of the police upon the Mrs. Warrens 
and her victims. While the victimlzers, the 
Crofts, the Canterburys, Rev. Gardner — 
Fivian's own father and pious mouthpiece of the 
Church — and the other patrons of Mrs. War- 
ren's houses parade as the protectors of woman, 
the home and the family. 

To-day no one of the least intelligence denies 
the cruelty, the injustice, the outrage of such a 
state of affairs, any more than it is being denied 
that the training of woman as a sex commodity 
has left her any other source of income except to 
sell herself to one man within marriage or to many 
men outside of marriage. Only bigots and inex- 
perienced girls like Vivian can say that " every- 
body has some choice. The poorest girl alive 
may not be able to choose between being Queen of 
England or Principal of Newnham; but she can 
choose between rag-picking and flower-selling, ac- 
cording to her taste." 

It Is astonishing how little education and col- 
lege degrees teach people. Had Vivian been 

1 86 George Bernard Shaw 

compelled to shift for herself, she would have dis- 
covered that neither rag-picking nor flower-sell- 
ing brings enough to satisfy one's " taste." It is 
not a question of choice, but of necessity, which 
is the determining factor in most people's lives. 

When Shaw flung Mrs. Warren into the smug 
midst of society, even the educated Vivians knew 
little of the compelling force which whips thou- 
sands of women into prostitution. As to the 
ignorant, their minds are a mental and spiritual 
desert. Naturally the play caused consternation. 
It still continues to serve as the red rag to the so- 
cial bull. '* Mrs. Warren's Profession " infu- 
riates because it goes to the bottom of our evils; 
because it places the accusing finger upon the 
sorest and most damnable spot in our social fabric 
— SEX as woman's only commodity in the competi- 
tive market of life. " An immoral and heretical 
play," indeed, of very deep social significance. 


" Major Barbara " is of still greater social 
importance, inasmuch as it points to the fact that 
while charity and religion are supposed to minis- 
ter to the poor, both institutions derive their main 
revenue from the poor by the perpetuation of the 
evils both pretend to fight. 

Major Barbara, the daughter of the world re- 

Major Barbara 187 

nowned cannon manufacturer Undershaft, has 
joined die Salvation Army. The latter lays claim 
to being the most humane religious institution, be- 
cause — unlike other soul savers — it does not en- 
tirely forget the needs of the body. It also 
teaches that the greater the sinner the more glor- 
ious the saving. But as no one is quite as black 
as he is painted, it becomes necessary for those 
who want to be saved, and incidentally to profit by 
the Salvation Army, to invent sins — the blacker 
the better. 

Rummy, What am I to do? I can't starve. Them 
Salvation lasses is dear girls; but the better you are the 
worse they likes to think you were before they rescued 
you. Why shouldn't they 'av' a bit o' credit, poor loves ? 
They're worn to rags by their work. And where would 
they get the money to rescue us if we was to let on we're 
no worse than other people? You know what ladies 
and gentlemen are. 

Price. Thievin' swine! . . . We're companions in 
misfortune, Rummy. . . . 

Rummy. Who saved you, Mr. Price? Was it Major 

Price. No: I come here on my own. I'm goin' to 
be Bronterre O'Brien Price, the converted painter. I 
know wot they like. I'll tell 'em how I blasphemed and 
gambled and wopped my poor old mother — 

Rummy. Used you to beat your mother? 

Price. Not likely. She used to beat me. No mat- 
ter: you come and listen to the converted painter, and 
you'll hear how she was a pious woman that taught me 

1 88 George Bernard Shaw 

mc prayers at *er knee, an' how I used to come home 
drunk and drag her out o' bed be *er snoMr-white 'airs, 
and lam into 'er with the poker. 

Rummy. That's what's so unfair to us women. Your 
confessions is just as big lies as ours: you don't tell what 
you really done no more than us; but you men can tell 
your lies right out at the meetin's and be made much of 
for it; while the sort o' confessions we az to make 'as 
to be whispered to one lady at a time. It ain't right, 
spite of all their piety. 

Price. Right! Do you suppose the Army'd be al- 
lowed if it went and did right? Not much. It combs 
our 'air and makes us good little blokes to be robbed and 
plit upon. But I'll play the game as good as any of 'em. 
I'll see somebody struck by lightnin', or hear a voice 
sayin', "Snobby Price: where will you spend eternity?" 
I'll 'ave a time of it, I tell you. 

It is inevitable that the Salvation Army, like all 
other religious and charitable institutions, should 
by its very character foster cowardice and hypoc- 
risy as a premium securing entry into heaven. 

Major Barbara, being a novice, is as ignorant 
of this as she is unaware of the source of the money 
which sustains her and the work of the Salva- 
tion Army. She consistently refuses to accept 
the " conscience sovereign " of Bill Walker for 
beating up a Salvation lassie. Not so Mrs. 
Baines, the Army Commissioner. She is dyed in 
the wool in the profession of begging and will 
take money from the devil himself " for the 

Major Barbara 189 

Glory of God," — the Glory of God which con- 
sists in " taking out the anger and bitterness 
against the rich from the hearts of the poor," a 
service " gratifying and convenient for all large 
employers." No wonder the whisky distiller 
Bodger makes the generous contribution of 50QO 
pounds and Undershaft adds his own little mite 
of another 5000. 

Barbara is indeed ignorant or she would not 
protest against a fact so notorious: 

Barbara. Do you know what my father is? Have 
you forgotten that Lord Saxmundham is Bodger the 
whisky man? Do you remember how we implored the 
County Council to stop him from writing Bodger's 
Whisky in letters of fire against the sky; so that the poor 
drink-ruined creatures on the embankment could not 
wake up from their snatches of sleep without being re- 
minded of their deadly thirst by that wicked sky sign? 
Do you know that the worst thing that I have had to 
fight here is not the devil, but Bodger, Bodger, Bodger 
with his whisky, his distilleries, and his tied houses? 
Are you going to make our shelter another tied house, for 
him, and ask me to keep it? 

Undershaft. My dear Barbara: alcohol is a very 
necessary article. It heals the sick — ... It assists the 
doctor: that is perhaps a less questionable way of put- 
ting it. It makes life bearable to millions of people who 
could not endure their existence if they were quite sober. 
It enables Parliaipent to dp things at eleven at night 
that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning. 

190 George Bernard Shaw 

Mrs. Baines, Barbara: Lord Saxmundham gives us I 
the money to stop drinking — to take his own business 
from him. 

Undershaft. I also, Mrs. Baines, may claim a little 
disinterestedness. Think of my business! think of the 
widows and orphans! the men and lads torn to pieces { 
with shrapnel and poisoned with lyddite! the oceans of 
blood, not one drop of which is shed in a really just 
cause! the ravaged crops! the peaceful peasants forced, 
women and men, to till their fields under the fire of op- 
posing armies on pain of starvation ! the bad blood of the | 
fierce cowards at home who egg on others to fight for 
the gratification of national vanity! All this makes 
money for me : I am never richer, never busier than when 
the papers are full of it. Well, it is your work to preach 
peace on earth and good will to men. Every convert 
you make is a vote against war. Yet I give you this 
money to hasten my own commercial ruin. 

Barbara. Drunkenness and Murder! My God, why 
hast thou forsaked me? 

However, Barbara's indignation does not last 
very long, any more than that of her aristocratic 
mother, Lady Britomart, who has no use for her 
plebeian husband except when she needs his 
money. Similarly Stephen, her son, has become 
converted, like Barbara, not to the Glory Halle- 
lujah of the Salvation Army but to the power 
of money and cannon. Likewise the rest of the 
family, including the Greek Scholar Cusins, Bat' 
bora's suitor. 

Major Barbara 191 

During the visit to their father's factory the 
Undershaft family makes several discoveries. 
They learn that the best modern method of ac- 
cumulating a large fortune consists in organizing 
industries in such a manner as to make the work- 
ers content with their slavery. It's a model fac- 

Undershaft. It is a spotlessly clean and beautiful hill- 
side town. There are two chapels: a Primitive one and 
a sophisticated one. There's even an ethical society; but 
It is not much patronized, as my men are all strongly' 
religious. In the high explosives sheds they object to the 
presence of agnostics as unsafe. 

The family further learns that it is not high 
moral precepts, patriotic love of country, or sim- 
ilar sentiments that are the backbone of the life 
of the nation. It is Undershaft again who en- 
lightens them of the power of money and its role 
in dictating governmental policies, making war or 
peace, and shaping the destinies of man. 

Undershaft, The government of your country. / am 
the government of your country: I, and Lazarus. Do 
you suppose that you and a half a dozen amateurs like 
you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can 
govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you 
will do what pays us. You will make war when it suits 
us, and keep peace when it doesn't. You will find out 
that trade requires certain measures when we have de- 

192 George Bernard Shaw 

cided on those measures. When I want anything to 
keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is 
a national need. When other people want something to 
keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and 
military. And in return you shall have the support and 
applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining 
that you are a great statesman. Government of your 
country! Be off with you, my boy, and play with your 
caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great 
leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys. 
I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper 
and call the tune. . . . To give arms to all men who 
offer an honest price for them, without respect of persons 
or principles: to Aristocrat and Republican, to Nihilist 
and Tsar, to Capitalist and Socialist, to Protestant and 
Catholic, to burglar and policeman, to black man, white 
man, and yellow man, to all sorts and conditions, all na- 
tionalities, all faiths, all follies, all causes and all crimes. 
... I will take an order from a good man as cheerfully 
as from a bad one. If you good people prefer preaching 
and shirking to buying my weapons and fighting the ras- 
cals, don't blame me. I can make cannons: I cannot 
make courage and conviction. 

That is just It. The Undershafts cannot make 
conviction and courage; yet both are indispens- 
able if one is to see that, in the words of Under- 

" Cleanliness and respectability do not need justifica- 
tion : they justify themselves. There are millions of poor 
people, abject people, dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed 

Major Barbara 193 

people. They poison us morally and physically: they kill 
the happiness of society: they force us to do away with 
our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for 
fear they should rise against us and drag us down into 
their abyss. Only fools fear crime: we all fear poverty, 
I had rather be a thief than a pauper. I had rather be 
a murderer than a slave. I don't want to be either; but 
if you force the alternative on me, then, by Heaven, I'll 
choose the braver and more moral one. I hate poverty 
and slavery worse than any other crimes whatsoever." 

Cusins, the scientist, realizes the force of Un- 
dershaffs argument. Long enough have the 
people been preached at, and intellectual power 
used to enslave them. 

Cusins. As a teacher of Greek I gave the intellectual 
man weapons against the common man. I now want to 
give the common man weapons against the intellectual 
man. I love the common people. I want to arm them 
against the lawyer, the doctor, the priest, the literary 
man, the professor, the artist, and the politician, who, 
once in authority, are the most dangerous, disastrous, and 
tyrannical of all the fools, rascals, and impostors. 

This thought is perhaps the most revolutionary 
sentiment in the whole play, in view of the fact 
that the people everywhere are enslaved by the 
awe of the lawyer, the professor, and the poli- 
tician, even more than by the club and gun. It is 
the lawyer and the politician who poison the 

194 George Bernard SHaw 

people with " the germ of briefs and politics," 
thereby unfitting them for the only effective course 
in the great social struggle — action, resultant 
from the realization that poverty and inequality 
never have been, never can be, preached or voted 
out of existence. 


Undershaft. Poverty and slavery have stood up for 
centuries to your sermons and leading articles: they will 
not stand up to my machine guns. Don't preach at them ; 
don't reason with them. Kill them. 

Barbara, Killing. Is that your remedy for every- 

Undershaft. It is the final test of conviction, the only 
lever strong enough to overturn a social system, the only 
way (5f saying Must. Let six hundred and seventy fools 
loose in the street; and three policemen can scatter them. 
But huddle them together in a certain house in West- 
minster; and let them go through certain ceremonies and 
call themselves certain names until at last they get the 
courage to kill; and your six hundred and seventy fools 
become a government. Your pious mob fills up ballot 
papers and imagines it is governing its masters; but the 
ballot paper that really governs is the paper that has a 
bullet wrapped up in it. . . • Vote! Bah! When you 
vote you only change the names of the cabinet. When 
you shoot, you pull down governments, inaugurate new 
epochs, abolish old orders and set up new. Is that his- 
torically true, Mr. Learned Man, or is it not? 

Cusins, It is historically true. I loathe having to 
admit it. I repudiate your sentiments. I abhor your 

Major Barbara 195 

nature. I defy you in every possible way. Still, it is 
true. But it ought not to be true. 

Vndershaft. Ought, ought, ought, ought, ought! 
Are you going to spend your life saying ought, like the 
rest of our moralists? Turn your oughts into shells, 
man. Come and make explosives with me. The history 
of the world is the history of those who had the courage 
to embrace this truth. 

" Major Barbara " is one of the most revolu- 
tionary plays. In any other but dramatic form 
the sentiments uttered therein would have con- 
demned the author to long imprisonment for in- 
citing to sedition and violence. 

Shaw the Fabian would be the first to repudiate 
such utterances as rank Anarchy, " impractical, 
brain cracked and criminal." But Shaw the 
dramatist is closer to life — closer to reality, 
closer to the historic truth that the people wrest 
only as much liberty as they have the intelligence 
to want and the courage to take. 


THE power of the modern drama as an 
interpreter of the pressing questions of 
our time is perhaps nowhere evident 
as clearly as it is in England to-day. 

Indeed, while other countries have come al- 
most to a standstill in dramatic art, England is the 
most productive at the present time. Nor can it 
be said that quantity has been achieved at the ex- 
pense of quality, which is only too often the case. 

The most prolific English dramatist, John 
Galsworthy, is at the same time a great arrist 
whose dramatic quality can be compared with that 
of only one other living writer, namely, Gerhart 
Hauptmann. Galsworthy, even as Hauptmann, is 
neither a propagandist nor a moralist. His 
background is life, " that palpitating life," which 
is the root of all sorrow and joy. 

His attitude toward dramatic art is given in 
the following words : 

" I look upon the stage as the great beacon li^t 
of civilization, but the drama should lead the so- 
cial thought of the time and not direct or dictate it. 

" The great duty of the dramatist is to present 

life as it really is. A true story, if told sincere ly, 

' X96 

Strife 197 

i s the strongest moral argument that can be put on 
the stage. It is the business of the dramatist so 
to present the characters in his picture of life that 
the inherent moral is brought to light without any 
lecturing on his part. 

" Moral c odes in themselves are, after all, not 
lasting, but a true picture of life is. A man may 
preach a strong lesson in a play which may exist 
for a day, but if he succeeds in presenting real life 
itself in such a manner as to carry with it a certain 
moral inspiration, the force of the message need 
never be lost, for a new interpretation to fit the 
spirit of the time can renew its vigor and power." 1 

John Galsworthy has undoubtedly succeeded in 
presenting real life. It is this that makes him so 
thoroughly human and universal. 


Not since Hauptmann's " Weavers " was 
placed before the thoughtful public, has there ap- 
peared anything more stirring than *' Strife." 

Its theme is a strike in the Trenartha Tin 
Plate Works, on the borders of England and 
Wales. The play largely centers about the two 
dominant figures : John Anthony, the President of 
the Company, rigid, autocratic and uncompromis- 
ing; he is unwilling to make the slightest conces- 
sion, although the men have been out for six 

198 John Galsworthy 

months and are in a condition of semi-starvation. 
On the other hand there is David Roberts, an un- 
compromising revolutionist, whose devotion to 
the workers and the cause of freedom is at red- 
white heat. Between them are the strikers, worn 
and weary with the terrible struggle, driven and 
tortured by the awful sight of poverty at home. 

At a directors' meeting, attended by the Com- 
pany's representatives from London, Edgar An- 
thony, the President's son and a man of kindly 
feeling, pleads in behalf of the strikers. 

Edgar. I don't see how we can get over it that to go 
on like this means starvation to the men's wives and fam- 
ilies ... It won't kill the shareholders to miss a divi- 
dend or two; I don't see that thafs reason enough for 
knuckling under. 

Wilder, H'm! Shouldn't be a bit surprised if that 
brute Roberts hadn't got us down here with the very 
same idea. I hate a man with a grievance. 

Edgar, We didn't pay him enough for his discovery. 
I always said that at the time. 

Wilder. We paid him five hundred and a bonus of 
two hundred three years later. If that's not enough! 
What does he want, for goodness' sake? 

Tench. Company made a hundred thousand out of his 
brains, and paid him seven hundred — that's the way he 
goes on, sir. 

Wilder. The man's a rank agitator 1 Look here, I 
hate the Unions. But now we've got Harness here let's 
get him to settle the whole thing. 

Strife 199 

Harness, the trade union official, speaks in 
favor of compromise. In the beginning of the 
strike the union had withdrawn its support, be- 
cause the workers had used their own judgment in 
deciding to strike. 

Harness. I'm quite frank with you. We were forced 
to withhold our support from your men because some of 
their demands are in excess of current rates . I expect to 
make them withdraw those demands to-day. , . . Now, I 
want to see something fixed upon before I go back to- 
night. Can't we have done with this old-fashioned tug- 
of-war business? What good's it doing you? Why 
don't you recognize once for all that these people are 
men like yourselves, and want what's good for them just 
as you want what's good for you. . . . There's just one 
very simple question I'd like to put to you. Will you pay 
your men one penny more than they force you to pay 

Of course not. With trade unionism lacking 
in true solidarity, and the workers not conscious 
of their power, why should the Company pay one 
penny more ? David Roberts is the only one who 
fully understands the situation. 

Roberts. Justice from Ix)ndon? What are you talk- 
ing about, Henry Thomas? Have you gone silly? Wc 
know very well what we are — discontented dogjs — 
never satisfied. What did the Chairman tell me up in 
London ? That I didn't know what I was talking about. 
I was a foolish, uneducated man, that knew nothing of 

zoo John Galsworthy 

the wants of the men I spoke for. ... I have this to 
say — and first as to their condition. . . . Ye can*t 
squeeze them any more. Every man of us is well nigh 
starving. Ye wonder why I tell ye that? Every man 
of us is going short. We can't be no worse off than 
we've been these weeks past. Ye needn't think that by 
waiting yc'll drive us to come in. We'll die first, the 
whole lot of us. The men have sent for ye to know, 
once and for all, whether ye are going to grant them tfieir 
demands. ... Ye know best whether ye can afford your 
tyranny — but this I tell ye: If ye think the men will 
give way the least part of an inch, ye're making the worst 
mistake ye ever made. Ye think because the Union is 
not supporting us — more shame to it! — that we'll be 
coming on our knees to you one fine morning. Ye think 
because the men have got their wives an' families to 
think of — that it's just a question of a week or 


The appalling state of the strikers is dem- 
onstrated by the women : Anna Roberts, sick with 
heart trouble and slowly dying for want of 
warmth and nourishment; Mrs. Rous, so accus- 
tomed to privation that her present poverty seems 
easy compared with the misery of her whole life. 

Into this dismal environment comes Enid, the 
President's daughter, with delicacies and jams for 
Annie. Like many women of her station she im- 
agines that a little sympathy will bridge the chasm 
between the classes, or as her father says, " You 

Strife 20I 

think with your gloved hands you can cure the 
troubles of the century." 

Enid does not know the life of Annie Roberts' 
class: that it is all a gamble from the " time 'e 's 
born to the time 'e dies." 

Mrs, Roberts, Roberts says workin' folk have al- 
ways lived from hand to mouth. Sixpence to-day is 
worth more than a shillin' to-morrow, that's what they 
say. . . . He says that when a working man's baby is 
bom, It's a toss-up from breath to breath whether it ever 
draws another, and so on all 'is life; an' when he comes 
to be old, it's the workhouse or the grave. He says that 
without a man is very near, and pinches and stints 'imself 
and 'is children to save, there can be neither surplus nor 
security. That's why he wouldn't have no children, not 
though I wanted them. 

The strik ers* meeting is a masterly study of 
mass psychology, — the men swayed hither and 
thither by the different speakers and not knowing 
whither to go. It is the smooth-tongued Harness 
who first weakens their determination to hold out. 

Harness. Cut your demands to the right pattern, and 
we'll see you through; refuse, and don't expect me to 
waste my time coming down here again. I'm not the 
sort that speaks at random, as you ought to know by 
this time. If you're the sound men I take you for — no 
matter who advises you against it — you'll make up your 
minds to come in, and trust to us to get your terms* 

202 John Galsworthy 

Which is It to be? Hands together, and victory — or — 
the starvation you've got now? 

Then Old Thomas appeals to their religious 
sentiments : 

Thomas. It iss not London; it iss not the Union — 
it iss Nature. It iss no disgrace whateffer to a potty to 
give in to Nature. For this Nature iss a fery pig thing; 
it is pigger than what a man is. There is more years to 
my hett than to the hett of anyone here. It is a man's 
pisness to pe pure, honest, just, and merciful. That's 
what Chapel tells you. . . . We're going the roat to 
tamnation. An' so I say to all of you. If ye co against 
Chapel I will not pe with you, nor will any other Got- 
fearing man. 

At last Roberts makes his plea, Roberts who 
has given his all — brain, heart and blood — aye, 
sacrificed even his wife to the cause. By sheer 
force of eloquence and sincerity he stays his fickle 
comrades long enough at least to listen to him, 
though they are too broken to rise to his great dig- 
nity and courage. 

Roberts. You don't want to hear me then? You'll 
listen to Rous and to that old man, but not to me. You'll 
listen to Sim Harness of the Union that's treated you so 
fair; maybe you'll listen to those men from London. . . . 
You love their feet on your necks, don't you? . . . Am 
I a liar, a coward, a traitor? If only I were, ye'd listen 
to me, I'm sure. Is there a man of you here who has 

Strife 203 

less to gain by striking? Is there a man of you that had 
more to lose? Is there a man among you who has given 
up eight hundred pounds since this trouble began? 
Come, now, is there? How much has Thomas given up 
— ten pounds or five or what? You listened to him, 
and what had he to say? " None can pretend," he said, 
" that Tm not a believer in principle — but when Nature 
says : * No further,' *tes going against Nature ! " I 
tell you if a man cannot say to Nature : " Budge me from 
this if ye can ! " — his principles are but his belly. " Oh, 
but," Thomas says, " a man can be pure and honest, just 
and merciful, and take off his hat to Nature." I tell you 
Nature's neither pure nor honest, just nor merciful. You 
chaps that live over the hill, an' go home dead beat in the 
dark on a snowy night — don't ye fight your way every 
inch of it? Do ye go lyin* down an* trustin* to the ten- 
der mercies of this merciful Nature? Try it and you'll 
soon know with what ye've got to deal. 'Tes only by 
that {he strikes a blow with his clenched fist) in Nature's 
face that a man can be a man. " Give in," says Thomas ; 
" go down on your knees; throw up your foolish fight, an' 
perhaps," he said, " perhaps your enemy will chuck you 
down a crust." . . . And what did he say about Chapel? 
"Chapel's against it," he said. " She's . against it." 
Well, if Chapel and Nature go hand in hand, it's the 
first I've ever heard of it. Surrendering's the work of 
cowards and traitors. . . . You've felt the pinch o't in 
your bellies. You've forgotten what that fight 'as been; 
many times I have told you; I will tell you now this 
once again. The fight o' the country's body and blood 
against a blood-sucker. The fight of those that spend 


204 John Galsworthy 

themselves with every blow they strike and every breath 
they draw, against a thing that fattens on them, and 
grows and grows by the law of merciful Nature. That 
thing is Capital! A thing that buys the sweat o' men's 
brows, and the tortures o' their brains, at its own price. 
Don't I know that? Wasn't the work o' my brains 
bought for seven hundred pounds, and hasn't one hun- 
dred thousand pounds been gained them by that seven 
hundred without the stirring of a finger. It is a thing 
that will take as much and give you as little as it can. 
That's Capital! A thing that will say — "I'm very 
sorry for you, poor fellows — you have a cruel time of it, 
I know," but will not give one sixpence of its dividends 
to help you have a better time. That's Capital! Tell 
me, for all their talk, is there one of them that will con- 
sent to another penny on the Income Tax to help the 
poor? That's Capital! A white-faced, stony-hearted 
monster! Ye have got it on its knees; are ye to give up 
at the last minute to save your miserable bodies pain? 
When I went this morning to those old men from Lon- 
don, I looked into their very 'earts. One of them was 
sitting there — Mr. Scantlebury, a mass of flesh nour- 
ished on us: sittin' there for all the world like the share- 
holders in this Company, that sit not moving tongue nor 
finger, takin' dividends — a great dumb ox that can only 
be roused when its food is threatened. I looked into his 
eyes and I saw he was afraid — afraid for himself and 
his dividends, afraid for his fees, afraid of the very share- 
holders he stands for ; and all but one of them's afraid — 
like children that get into a wood at night, and start at 
every rustle of the leaves. I ask you, men — give me a 

Strife 205 

free hand to tell them : " Go you back to London. The 
men have nothing for you ! " Give me that, and I swear 
to you, within a week you shall have from London all 
you want. 'Tis not for this little moment of time we're 
fighting, not for ourselves, our own little bodies, and their 
wants, 'tis for all those that come after throughout all 
time. Oh! men — for the love o' them, don't roll up 
another stone upon their heads, don't help to blacken the 
sky, an' let the bitter sea in over them. They're welcome 
to the worst that can happen to me, to the worst that can 
happen to us all, aren't they — aren't they? If we can 
shake the white-faced monster with the bloody lips, that 
has sucked the life out of ourselves, our wives, and chil- 
dren, since the world began. If we have not the hearts 
of men to stand against it breast to breast, and eye to eye, 
and force it backward till it cry for mercy, it will go 
on sucking life; and we shall stay forever what we are, 
less than the very dogs. 

Consistency is the greatest crime of our com- 
mercial age. No matter how intense the spirit or 
how important the man, the moment he will not 
allow himself to be used or sell his principles, he 
is thrown on the dust heap. Such is the fate of 
Anthony, the President of the Company, and of 
David Roberts. To be sure they represent oppo- 
site poles — poles antagonistic to each other, 
poles divided by a terrible gap that can never be 
bridged over. Yet they share a common fate. 
Anthony is the embodiment of conservatism, of 
old ideas, of iron methods : 

206 John Galsworthy 

Anthony. I have been Chairman of this Ccmipany 
since its inception two and thirty years ago. ... I have 
had to do with ** men " for fifty years ; I've alwa3rs stood 
up to them ; I have never been beaten yet. I have fought 
the men of this Company four times, and four times I 
have beaten them. . . . The men have been treated 
justly, they have had fair wages, we have alwa3rs been 
ready to listen to complaints. It has been said that times 
have changed; if they have, I have not changed with 
them. Neither will I. It has been said that masters 
and men are equal ! Cant ! There can only be one mas- 
ter in a house! Where two men meet the better man 
will rule. It has been said that Capital and Labor have 
the same interests. Cant! Their interests are as wide 
asunder as the poles. It has been said that the Board is 
only part of a machine. Cant! We are the machine; 
its brains and sinews ; it is for us to lead and to determine 
what is to be done; and to do it without fear or favor. 
Fear of the men! Fear of the shareholders! Fear of 
our own shadows! Before I am like that, I hope to die. 
There is only one way of treating " men " — with the 
iron hand. This half-and-half business, the half-and-half 
manners of this generation, has brought all this upon us. 
Sentiments and softness and what this young man, no 
doubt, would call his social policy. You can't eat cake 
and have it! This middle<lass sentiment, or socialism, 
or whatever it may be, is rotten. Masters are masters, 
men are men! Yield one demand, and they will make 
it six. They are like Oliver Twist, asking for more. 
If I were in their place I should be the same. But I am 
not in their place. . • • I have been accused of being t 

Strife 207 

domineering t3rrant, thinking only of my pride — I am 
thinking of the future of this country, threatened with 
the black waters of confusion, threatened with mob gov- 
ernment, threatened with what I cannot say. If by any 
conduct of mine I help to bring this on us, I shall be 
ashamed to look my fellows in the face. Before I put 
this amendment to the Board, I have one more word to 
say. If it is carried, it means that we shall fail in what 
we set ourselves to do. It means that we shall fail in 
the duty that we owe to all Capital. It means that we 
shall fail in the duty that we owe ourselves. 

We may not like this adherence to old, reaction- 
ary notions, and yet there is something admirable 
in the courage and consistency of this man; nor 
is he half as dangerous to the interests of the op- 
pressed as our sentimental and soft reformers who 
rob with n ine fingers, and give libraries with the 
tenth ; who grind human beings and spend millions 
of dollars in social research work. Anthony is a 
worthy foe ; to fight such a foe, one must learn to 
meet him in open battle. 

David Roberts has all the mental and moral at- 
tributes of his adversary, coupled with the spirit 
of revolt and the inspiration of modem ideas. 
He, too, is consistent: he wants nothing for his 
class short of complete victory. 

It is inevitable that compromise and petty in- 
terest should triumph until the masses become im- 
bued with the spirit of a David Roberts. Will 

2o8 John Galsworthy 

they ever? Prophecy is not the vocation of the 
dramatist, yet the moral lesson is evident. One 
cannot help realizing that the workingmen will 
have to use methods hitherto unfamiliar to them; 
; that they will have to discard the elements in their 
1 midst that are forever seeking to reconcile the ir- 
1 reconcilable — Capital and Labor. They will 
have to learn that men like David Roberts are the 
very forces that have revolutionized the world and 
thus paved the way for emancipation out of the 
clutches of the '* white-faced monster with bloody 
lips," toward a brighter horizon, a freer life, and a 
truer recognition of human values. 


No subject of equal social import has received 
such thoughtful consideration in recent years as 
the question of Crime and Punishment. A num- 
ber of books by able writers, both in Europe and 
this country — preeminently among them *' Prison 
Memoirs of an Anarchist," by Alexander Berk- 
man — discuss this topic from the historic, psycho- 
logic, and social standpoint, the consensus of opin- 
ion being that present penal institutions and our 
methods of coping with crime have in every re- 
spect proved inadequate as well as wasteful. 
This new attitude toward one of the gravest so- 

Justice 209 

cial wrongs has now also found dramatic interpre- 
tation in Galsworthy's " Justice." 

The play opens in the ofSce of James How &f 
Sons, solicitors. The senior clerk, Robert Coke- 
son, discovers that a check he had issued for nine 
pounds has been forged to ninety. By elimina- 
tion, suspicion falls upon William Falder, the 
junior office clerk. The latter is in love with a 
married woman, the abused and ill-treated wife of 
a brutal drunkard. Pressed by his employer, a 
severe yet not unkindly man, Falder confesses the 
forgery, pleading the dire necessity of his sweet- 
heart, Ruth Honeywill, witl^ whom he had planned 
to escape to save her from the unbearable bru- 
tality of her husband. 

Falder. Oh! sir, look over it! V\\ pay the money 
back — I will, I promise. 

Notwithstanding the entreaties of young Walter 
How, who holds modern ideas, his father, a 
moral and law-respecting citizen, turns Falder 
over to the police. 

The second act, in the court room, shows Justice 
in the very process of manufacture. The scene 
equals in dramatic power and psychologic verity 
the great court scene in ** Resurrection." Young 
Falder, a nervous and rather weakly youth of 
twenty-three, stands before the bar. Ruth, his 

2IO John Galsworthy 

faithful sweetheart, full of love and devotion, 
burns with anxiety to save the young man, whose 
affection for her has brought about his present pre- 
dicament. Falder is defended by Lawyer Frame, 
whose speech to the jury is a masterpiece pf social 
philosophy. He does not attempt to dispute the 
mere fact that his client had altered the check; and 
though he pleads temporary aberration in his de- 
fense, the argument is based on a social conscious- 
ness as fundamental and all-embracing as the roots 
of our social ills — " the background of life, that 
palpitating life which always lies behind the com- 
mission of a crime." He shows Falder to have 
faced the alternative of seeing the beloved woman 
murdered by her brutal husband^ whom she can- 
not divorce, or of taking the law into his own 
hands. He pleads with the jury not to turn the 
weak young man into a criminal by condemning 
him to prison. 

Frome, Men like the prisoner are destroyed daily 
under our law for want of that human insight which sees 
them as they are, patients, and not criminals. . . . Justice 
is a machine that, when someone has given it a starting 
push, rolls on of itself. ... Is this young man to be 
ground to pieces under this machine for an act which, at 
the worst, was one of weakness ? Is he to become a mem- 
ber of the luckless crews that man those dark, ill-starred 
ships called prisons? ... I urge you, gentlemen, do not 
ruin this young man. For as a result of those four min- 

Justice 211 

utes, ruin, utter and irretrievable, stares him in the face. 
. . . The rolling of the chariot wheels of Justice over 
this boy began when it was decided to prosecute him. 

But the chariot of Justice rolls mercilessly on, 
for — as the learned Judge says — 

" Your counsel has made an attempt to trace your of- 
fense back to what he seems to suggest is a defect in the 
marriage law; he has made an attempt also to show that 
to punish you with further imprisonment would be un- 
just. I do not follow him in these flights. The Law is 
what it is — a majestic edifice, sheltering all of us, each 
stone of which rests on another. I am concerned only 
with its administration. The crime you have committed 
is a very serious one. I cannot feel it in accordance with 
my duty to Society to exercise the powers I have in your 
favor. You will go to penal servitude for three years.*' 

In prison the young, inexperienced convict soon 
finds himself the victim of the terrible '* system." 
The authorities admit that young Falder is men- 
tally and physically " in bad shape," but nothing 
can be done in the matter: many others are in a 
similar position, and " the quarters are inade- 

The third scene of the third act is heart-gripping 
In its silent force. The whole scene is a panto- 
mime, taking place in Falder^ s prison cell. 

*' In fast-falling daylight, Falder, in his stock- 
ings, is seen standing motionless, with his head in- 

212 John Galsworthy 

cUned towards the door, listening. He moves a 
little closer to the door, his stockinged feet making 
no noise. He stops at the door. He is trying 
harder and harder to hear something, any little 
thing that is going on outside. He springs sud- 
denly upright — as if at a sound — and remains 
perfectly motionless. Then, with a heavy sigh, 
he moves to his work, and stands looking at it, 
with his head down ; he does a stitch or two, hav- 
ing the air of a man so lost in sadness that each 
stitch is, as it were, a coming to life. Then, turn- 
ing abruptly, he begins pacing his cell, moving his 
head, like an animal pacing its cage. He stops 
again at the door, listens, and, placing the palms 
of his hands against it, with his fingers spread out, 
leans his forehead against the iron. Turning 
from it, presently, he moves slowly back towards 
the window, tracing his way with his finger along 
the top line of the distemper that runs round 
the wall. He stops under the window, and, pick- 
ing up the lid of one of the tins, peers into it. It 
has grown very nearly dark. Suddenly the lid 
falls out of his hand with a clatter — the only 
sound that has broken the silence — and he stands 
Staring intently at the wall where the stuff of the 
shirt is hanging rather white in the darkness — he 
seems to be seeing somebody or something there. 
There is a sharp tap and click; the cell light be- 
hind the glass screen has been turned up. The 

Justice 213 

cell is brightly lighted. Falder is seen gasping 
for breath. 

** A sound from far away, as of distant, dull 
beating on thick metal, is suddenly audible. Falder 
shrinks back, not able to bear this sudden clamor. 
But the sounds grows, as though some great tum- 
bril were rolling towards the cell. And gradu- 
ally it seems to hypnotize him. He begins creep- 
ing inch by inch nearer to the door. The banging 
sound, traveling from cell to cell, draws closer 
and closer; Falder^ s hands are seen moving as if 
his spirit had already joined in this beating; and 
the sound swells until it seems to have entered the 
very cell. He suddenly raises his clenched fists. 

** Panting violently, he flings himself at his door, 
and beats on it." 

Falder leaves the prison, a broken ticket-of- 
leave man, the stamp of the convict upon his brow, 
the iron of misery in his soul. 

Falder. I seem to be struggling against a thing that's 
all round me. I can't explain it: it's as if I was in a 
net; as fast as I cut it here, it grows up there. I didn't 
act as I ought to have, about references; but what are 
you to do? You must have them. And that made me 
afraid, and I left. In fact, I'm — I'm afraid all the time 

Thanks to Ruth's pleading, the firm of James 
How &? Son is willing to take Falder back in their 

214 John Galsworthy 

employ, on condition that he give up Ruth. Fal 
der resents this : 

Folder. I couldn't give her up. I couldn't! Oh, 
sir! I'm all she's got to look to. And I'm sure she's all 
I've got. 

It is then that Falder learns the awful news that 
the woman he loves had been driven by the chariot 
wheel of Justice to sell herself. 

Ruth. I tried making skirts . . . cheap things. It 
was the best I could get, but I never made more than ten 
shillings a week, buying my own cotton and working all 
day; I hardly ever got to bed till past twelve. I kept at 
it for nine months. ... It was starvation for the chil- 
dren. . . . And then ... my employer happened — he's 
happened ever since. 

At this terrible psychologic moment the police 
appear to drag Falder back to prison for failing 
to report to the authorities as ticket-of-leave man. 

Completely overcome by the inexorability of his 
fate, Falder throws himself down the stairs, break- 
ing his neck. 

The socio-revolutionary significance of ** Jus- 
tice " consists not only in the portrayal of the in- 
human system which grinds the Falders and 
Honeywills, but even more so in the utter helpless- 
ness of society as expressed in the words of the 
Senior Clerk, Cokeson, ** No one'U touch him 

The Pigeon 215 

now! Never again! He's safe with gentle 


John Galsworthy calls this play a fantasy. 
To me it seems cruelly real: it demonstrates that 
the best human material is crushed in the fatal 
imechanism of our life. " The Pigeon " also dis- 
closes to us the inadequacy of charity, individual 
and organized, to cope with poverty, as well as the 
absurdity of reformers and experimenters who at- 
tempt to patch up effects while they ignore the 

Christopher Wellwyn, an artist, a man deeply 
in sympathy with all human sorrow and failings, 
generously shares his meager means with everyone 
who applies to him for help. 

His daughter Ann is of a more practical turn 
of mind. She cannot understand that giving is 
as natural and necessary to her father as light and 
air; indeed, the greatest joy in life. 

Perhaps Ann is actuated by anxiety for her 
father who is so utterly " hopeless " that he would 
give away his ** last pair of trousers." From her 
point of view ** people who beg are rotters ": de- 
cent folk would not stoop to begging. But Chris- 
topher fFellwyn's heart is too full of humanity to 
admit of such a straight-laced attitude. " We're 

2i6 John Galsworthy 

not all the same. . . . One likes to be friendly. 
What's the use of being alive if one isn't? " 

Unfortunately most people are not alive to the 
tragedies around them. They are often unthinking 
mechanisms, mere tabulating machines, like Alfred 
Calway, the Professor, who believes that " we're 
to give the State all we can spare, to make the 
undeserving deserving." Or as Sir Hoxton, the 
Justice of the Peace, who insists that " we ought to 
support private organizations for helping the de- 
serving, and damn the undeserving." Finally 
there is the Canon who religiously seeks the mid- 
dle road and " wants a little of both." 

When Ann concludes that her father is the de- 
spair of all social reformers, she is but expressing 
a great truism ; namely, that social reform is a cold 
and bloodless thing that can find no place in the 
glowing humanity of Christopher Wellwyn. 

It is Christmas Eve, the birth of Him who came 
to proclaim " Peace on earth, good will to all." 
Christopher Wellwyn is about to retire when he is 
disturbed by a knock on the door. 

The snow-covered, frost-pinched figure of 
Guinevere Megan appears. She is a flower-seller 
to whom Wellwyn had once given his card that 
she might find him In case of need. She comes to 
him when the rest of the world has passed her by, 

The Pigeon 217 

forlorn and almost as dead as her violets which no 
one cares to buy. 

At sight of her misery Wellwyn forgets his 
daughter's practical admonition and his promise 
to her not to be '' a fool." He treats the flower- 
seller tenderly, makes her warm and comfortable. 
He has barely time to show Guinevere into his 
model's room, when another knock is heard. 
This time it is Ferrand, " an alien," a globe trot- 
ter without means, — a tramp whom Wellwyn had 
once met in the Champs-Elysees. Without food 
for days and unable to endure the cold, Ferrand 
too comes to the artist. 

Ferrand. If I had not found you, Monsieur — I 
would have been a little hole in the river to-night — I 
was so discouraged. . . . And to think that in a few min- 
utes He will be born! . . . The world would reproach 
you for your goodness to me. Monsieur, if He himself 
were on earth now, there would be a little heap of gen- 
tlemen writing to the journals every day to call him 
sloppee sentimentalist! And what is veree funny, these 
gentlemen they would all be most strong Christians. 
But that will not trouble you. Monsieur; I saw well 
from the first that you are no Christian. You have so * 
kind a face. 

Ferrand has deeper insight into the character of 
Christopher JVellwyn than his daughter. He 
knows that the artist would not judge nor could he 

2i8 John Galsworthy 

refuse one whom misery stares in the face. Even 
the third visitor of fFellwyn, the old cabman Tim - 
son, with more whisky than bread in his stomach, 
receives the same generous reception as the other 

The next day Ann calls a council of war. The 
learned Professor, Alfred Calway; the wise judge, 
Sir Thomas Hoxton; and the professional Chris- 
tian, Edward Bertley — the Canon — are sum- 
moned to decide the fate of the three outcasts. 

There are few scenes in dramatic literature so 
rich in satire, so deep in the power of analysis as 
the one in which these eminent gentlemen discuss 
human destiny. Ca non Bertley is emphatic that it 
is necessary to " remove the temptation and re- 
form the husband of the flower-seller." 

Bertley. Now, what is to be done? 

Mrs, Megan, I could get an unfurnished room, if I'd 
the money to furnish it. 

Bertley, Never mind the money. What I want to 
find in you is repentance. 

Those who are engaged in saving souls cannot 
be interested in such trifles as money matters, nor 
to understand the simple truth that if the Megans 
did not have to bother with making a " livin'," 
repentance would take care of itself. 

The other two gentlemen are more worldly, 
since law and science cannot experiment with 

The Pigeon 219 

such elusive things as the soul. Professor Calway 
opines that Timson is a congenital case, to be put 
under observation, while Judge Hoxton decides 
that he must be sent to prison. 

Calway. Is it, do you think, chronic unemployment 
with a vagrant tendency? Or would it be nearer the 
mark to say: Vagrancy — Dipsomaniac? ... By the 
look of his face, as far as one can see it, I should say 
there was a leaning towards mania. I know the treat- 

Hoxton, Hundreds of these fellows before me in my 
time. The only thing is a sharp lesson! 

Calway. I disagree. I've seen the man; what he re- 
quires is steady control, and the Dobbins treatment. 

Hoxton. Not a bit of it ! He wants one for his knob ! 
Bracing him up! It's the only thing! 

Calway. You're moving backwards, Sir Thomas. 
I've told you before, convinced reactionaryism, in these 
days — The merest sense of continuity — a simple instinct 
for order — 

Hoxton. The only way to get order, sir, is to bring 
the disorderly up with a round turn. You people with- 
out practical experience — 

Calway. The question is a much wider one. Sir 

Hoxton. No, sir, I repeat, if the country once com- 
mits itself to your views of reform, it's as good as doomed. 

Calway, I seem to have heard that before. Sir 
Thomas. And let me say at once that your hitty-missy 
cart-load of bricks regime — 

220 John Galsworthy 

Hoxton, Is a deuced sight better, sir, than your grand- 
motherly methods. What the old fello\*^ wants is a 
shock! With all this socialistic molly-coddling, you're 
losing sight of the individual. 

Calway, You, sir, with your " devil take the hind- 
most," have never seen him. 

The farce ends by each one insisting on the su- 
periority of his own pet theory, while misery con- 
tinues to stalk white-faced through the streets. 

Three months later Ann determines to rescue 
her father from his disreputable proclivities by 
removing with him to a part of the city where their 
address will remain unknown to his beggar friends 
and acquaintances. 

While their belongings are being removed, 
Canon Bertley relates the trouble he had with 
Mrs. Megan. 

Bertley, I consulted with Calway and he advised me 
to try a certain institution. We got her safely in — 
excellent place; but, d'you know, she broke out three 
weeks ago. And since — IVe heard — hopeless, Fm 
afraid — quite! . . . Fm sometimes tempted to believe 
there's nothing for some of these poor folk but to pray 
for death. 

Wellwyn, The Professor said he felt there was noth- 
ing for some of these poor devils but a lethal chamber. 

What is science for if not to advise a lethal 
chamber? It's the easiest way to dispose of " the 

The Pigeon 221 

unfit " and to supply learned professors with the 
means of comfortable livelihood. 

Yet there is Ferrand, the vagabond, the social 
outcast who has never seen the inside of a uni- 
versity, propounding a philosophy which very few 
professors even dream of: 

Ferrand, While I was on the road this time I fell ill 
of a fever. It seemed to me in my illness that I saw the 
truth — how I was wasting in this world — I would 
never be good for anyone — nor anyone for me — all 
would go by, and I never of it — fame, and fortune, and 
peace, even the necessities of life, ever mocking me. And 
I saw, so plain, that I should be vagabond all my days, 
and my days short ; I dying in the end the death of a dog. 
I saw it all in my fever — clear as that flame — there 
was nothing for us others, but the herb of death. And 
so I wished to die. I told no one of my fever. I lay out 
on the ground — it was verree cold. But they would 
not let me die on the roads of their parishes — They 
took me to an Institution. I looked in their eyes while 
I lay there, and I saw more clear than the blue heaven 
that they thought it best that I should die, although they 
would not let me. Then naturally my spirit rose, and I 
said: " So much the worse for you. I will live a little 
more." One is made like that! Life is sweet. That 
little girl you had here, Monsieur — in her too there is 
something of wild savage. She must have joy of life. 
I have seen her since I came back. She has embraced 
the life of joy. It is not quite the same thing. She is 
lost. Monsieur, as a stone that sinks in water. I can 

222 John GalsworiKy 

sec, if she cannot. • . . For the great part of mankind, 
to see anything — is fatal. No, Monsieur. To be so 
near to death has done me good ; I shall not lack courage 
any more till the wind blows on my grave. Since I saw 
you, Monsieur, I have been in three Institutions. They 
are palaces. . . . One little thing they lack — those pal- 
aces. It is understanding of the 'uman heart. In them 
tame birds pluck wild birds naked. Ah! Monsieur, I 
am loafer, waster — what you like — for all that, pov- 
erty is my only crime. If I were rich, should I not be 
simply verree original, 'ighly respected, ^vith soul above 
commerce, traveling to see the world? And that young 
girl, would she not be " that charming ladee," " verec 
chic, you know ! " And the old Tims — good old-fash- 
ioned gentleman — drinking his liquor well. Eh! bien 

— what are we now? Dark beasts, despised by alL 
That is life. Monsieur. Monsieur, it is just that. You 
understand. When we are with you we feel something 

— here — If I had one prayer to make, it would be, 
" Good God, give me to understand ! " Those sirs, with 
their theories, they can clean our skins and chain our 
'abits — that soothes for them the aesthetic sense ; it gives 
them too their good little importance. But our spirits 
they cannot touch, for they nevare understand. Without 
that. Monsieur, all is dry as a parched skin of orange. 
Monsieur, of their industry I say nothing. They do a 
good work while they attend with their theories to the 
sick and the tame old, and the good unfortunate deserv- 
ing. Above all to the little children. But, Monsieur, 
when all is done, there are always us hopeless ones. 
What can they do with me. Monsieur, with that girl, or 

The Pigeon 223 

wnth that old man? Ah! Monsieur, wc too, 'ave our 
qualities, we others — it wants you courage to undertake 
a career like mine, or like that young girl's. We wild 
ones — we know a thousand times more of life than ever 
will those sirs. They waste their time trying to make 
rooks white. Be kind to us if you will, or let us alone 
like Mees Ann, but do not try to change our skins. 
Leave us to live, or leave us to die when we like in the 
free air. If you do not wish of us, you have but to shut 
your pockets and your doors — we shall die the faster. 
... If you cannot, how is it our fault? The harm we 
do to others — is it so much? If I am criminal, dan- 
gerous — shut me up! I would not pity myself — 
nevare. But we in whom something moves — like that 
flame. Monsieur, that cannot keep still — we others — 
we are not many — that must have motion in our lives, 
do not let them make us prisoners, with their theories, 
because we are not like them — it is life itself they would 
enclose! . . . The good God made me so that I would 
rather walk a whole month of nights, hungry, with the 
stars, than sit one single day making round business on 
an office stool! It is not to my advantage. I cannot 
help it that I am a vagabond. What would you have? 
It is stronger than me. Monsieur, I say to you things 
I have never said. Monsieur! Are you really English? 
The English are so civilized. 

Truly the English are highly ** civilized "; else 
it would be impossible to explain why of all the na- 
tions on • earth, the Anglo-Saxons should be the 
only ones to punish attempts at suicide. 

224 John Galsworthy 

Society makes no provision whatever for the 
Timsons, the Ferrands and Mrs. Megans. It has 
closed the door in their face, denying them a seat 
at the table of life. Yet when Guinevere Megan 
attempts to drown herself, a benevolent constable 
drags her out and a Christian Judge sends her to 
the workhouse. 

Constable, Well, sir, we can't gpt over the facts, can 
we ? . . . You know what soocide amounts to — it's an 
awkward job. 

Wellwyn, But look here, Constable, as a reasonable 
man — This poor wretched little girl — you know what 
that life means better than anyone! Why! It's to her 
credit to try and jump out of it! 

Constable. Can't neglect me duty, sir; that's impos- 

Wellwyn. Of all the d d topsy-turvy — ! Not 

a soul in the world wants her alive — and now she is to 
be prosecuted for trying to go where everyone wishes her. 

Is it necessary to dwell on the revolutionary sig- 
nificance of this cruel reality? It is so all-embrac- 
ing in its sweep, so penetrating of the topsy-tur- 
viness of our civilization, with all its cant and arti- 
fice, so powerful in its condemnation of our cheap 
theories and cold institutionalism which freezes the 
soul and destroys the best and finest in our being. 
The Wellwyns, Ferrands, and Megans are the stuff 
out of which a real humanity might be fashioned. 
They feel the needs of their fellows, and what- 

The Pigeon 225 

ever is in their power to give, they give as nature » 
does, unreservedly. But the Hoxtons, Calways 
and Bertleys have turned the world into a dismal : 
prison and mankind into monotonous, gray, dull 

The professors, judges, and preachers cannot 
meet the situation. Neither can Wellwyn, to be 
sure. And yet his very understanding of the dif- 
ferentiation of human nature, and his sympathy 
with the inevitable reaction of conditions upon it, 
bring the Wellwyns much closer to the solution 
of our evils than all the Hoxtons, Calways and 
Bertleys put together. This deep conception of 
social factors is in itself perhaps the most signifi- 
cant lesson taught in ** The Pigeon." 



IN Stanley Houghton, who died last year 
drama lost a talented and brave ai 
Brave, because he had the courage to t 
one of the most sensitive spots of Purita: 
— woman's virtue. Whatever else one may \ 
cise or attack, the sacredness of virtue must 
main untouched. It is the last fetich which < 
so-called liberal-minded people refuse to dest 
To be sure, the attitude towards this hob 
holies has of late years undergone a consider 
change. It is beginning to be felt in ever-grov 
circles that love is its own justification, requi 
no sanction of either religion or law. The rev 
tionary idea, however, that woman may, evei 
man, follow the urge of her nature, has never 
fore been so sincerely and radically expressed. 
The message of *' Hindle Wakes '' is therel 
of inestimable value, inasmuch as it dispels the 
of the silly sentimentalism and disgusting boml 
that declares woman a thing apart from nature 
one who neither does nor must crave the joys 
life permissible to man. 

Hindle is a small weaving town, symbolicj 


Hindle Wakes 227 

representing the wakefulness of every small com- 
munity to the shortcomings of its neighbors. 

Christopher Hawthorne and Nathaniel Jeff cote 
had begun life together as lads in the cotton mill. 
But while Christopher was always a timid and 
shrinking boy, Nathaniel was aggressive and am- 
bitious. When the play opens, Christopher, 
though an old man, is still a poor weaver; Na- 
thaniel, on the contrary, has reached the top of fi- 
nancial and social success. He is the owner of the 
biggest mill; is wealthy, influential, and withal a 
man of power. For Nathaniel Jeff cote always 
loved power and social approval. Speaking of 
the motor he bought for his only son Alan, he tells 
his wife : 

Jeff cote. Why did I buy a motor-car? Not because 
I wanted to go motoring. I hate it. I bought it so that 
people could see Alan driving about in it, and say, 
" There's Jeff cote's lad in his new car. It cost five hun- 
dred quid." 

However, Nathaniel is a " square man," and 
when facing an emergency, not chary with jus- 
tice and always quick to decide in its favor. 

The Jeffcotes center all their hopes on Alan, 
their only child, who is to inherit their fortune and 
business. Alan is engaged to Beatrice, the lovely, 
sweet daughter of Sir Timothy Farrar, and all is 
joyous at the Jeffcotes'. 

228 Stanley Houghton 

Down in the valley of Hindle live the Hav^- 
thornes, humble and content, as behooves God- 
fearing workers. They too have ambitions in be- 
half of their daughter Fanny, strong, willful and 
self-reliant, — qualities molded in the hard grind 
of Jeffcote's mill, where she had begun work as a 

During the " bank holiday " Fanny with her 
chum Mary goes to a neighboring town for an 
outing. There they meet two young men, Alan 
Jeffcote and his friend. Fanny departs with Alan, 
and they spend a glorious time together. On the 
way home Mary is drowned. As a result of the 
accident the Hawthornes learn that their daughter 
had not spent her vacation with Mary. When 
Fanny returns, they question her, and though she 
at first refuses to give an account of herself, 
they soon discover that the girl had passed the 
time with a man, — young Alan Jefcote. Her 
parents are naturally horrified, and decide to force 
the Jef cotes to have Alan marry Fanny. 

In the old mother of Fanny the author has suc- 
ceeded in giving a most splendid characterization 
of the born drudge, hardened by her long struggle 
with poverty, and grown shrewd in the ways of the 
world. She knows her daughter so little, how- 
ever, that she believes Fanny had schemed the af- 
fair with Alan in the hope that she might force him 
to marry her. In her imagination the old woman 

Hindle Wakes 229 

already sees Fanny as the mistress of the Jeffcote 
estate. She persuades her husband to go immedi- 
ately to the Jef cotes, and though it is very late at 
night, the old man is forced to start out on his dis- 
agreeable errand. 

Jeffcote, a man of integrity, is much shocked at 
the news brought to him by old Hawthorne, 
Nevertheless he will not countenance the wrong. 

Jeffcote. ni see you're treated right. Do you hear? 
Christopher, I can't ask for more than that. 
Jeffcote, rU see you're treated right. 

Young Alan had never known responsibility. 
Why should he, with so much wealth awaiting 
him? When confronted by his father and told 
that he must marry Fanny, he fights hard against 
it. It may be said, in justice to Alan, that he 
really loves his betrothed, Beatrice, though such a 
circumstance has never deterred the Alans from 
having a lark with another girl. 

The young man resents his father's command to 
marry the mill girl. But when even Beatrice in- 
sists that he belongs to Fanny, Alan unwillingly 
consents. Beatrice, a devout Christian, believes 
in renunciation. 

Beatrice, I do need you, Alan. So much that noth- 
ing on earth could make me break off our engagement, 
if I felt that it was at all possible to let it go on. But 
it isn't. It's impossible. 

230 Stanley Houghton 

Alan, And you want me to marry Fanny? 

Beatrice. Yes. Oh, Alan! can't you see what a 
splendid sacrifice you have it in your power to make? 
Not only to do the right thing, but to give up so much 
in order to do it. 

The Jef cotes and the Hawthornes gather to ar- 
range the marriage of their children. It does not 
occur to them to consult Fanny in the matter. 
Much to their consternation, Fanny refuses to 
abide by the decision of the family council. 

Fanny, It's very good of you. You'll hire the par- 
son and get the license and make all the arrangements 
on your own* without consulting me, and I shall have 
nothing to do save turn up meek as a lamb at the churdi 
or registry office or whatever it is. . . . That's just where 
you make the mistake. I don't want to marry Alan. . . . 
I mean what I say, and Til trouble you to talk to me 
without swearing at me. I'm not one of the family yet. 

The dismayed parents, and even Alan, plead 
with her and threaten. But Fanny Is obdurate. 
At last Alan asks to be left alone with her, confi- 
dent that he can persuade the girl. 

Alan. Look here, Fanny, what's all this nonsense 
about? . . . Why won't you marry me? 

Fanny. You can't understand a girl not jumping at 
you when she gets the chance, can you? . . . How is it 
that you aren't going to marry Beatrice Farrar? 
Weren't you fond of her? 

H in die Wakes 231 

Alan, Very. ... I gave her up because my father 
made me. 

Fanny. Made you? Good Lord, a chap of your age! 

Alan. My father's a man who will have his own 
way. . . . He can keep me short of brass. 

Fanny. Earn some brass. 

Alan. I can earn some brass, but it will mean hard 
work and it'll take time. And, after all, I shan't earn 
anything like what I get now. 

Fanny. Then all you want to wed me for is what 
you'll get with me? I'm to be given away with a pound 
of tea, as it were? 

Alan. I know why you won't marry me. . . . You're 
doing it for my sake. 

Fanny. Don't you kid yourself, my lad! It isn't be- 
cause I'm afraid of spoiling your life that I'm refusing 
you, but because I'm afraid of spoiling mine! That 
didn't occur to you? 

Alan. Look here, Fanny, I promise you I'll treat you 
fair all the time. You don't need to fear that folk'U 
look down on you. We shall have too much money for 

Fanny. I can manage all right on twenty-five bob a 

Alan. I'm going to fall between two stools. It's all 
up with Beatrice, of course. And if you won't have me 
I shall have parted from her to no purpose; besides get- 
ting kicked out of the house by my father, more than 
likely I You said you were fond of me once, but it hasn't 
taken you long to alter. 

Fanny. All women aren't built alike. Beatrice is 

2J2 Stanley Houghton 

religious. She'll be sorry for you. I was fond of you 
in a way. 

Alan. But you didn't ever really love me? 

Fanny, Love you? Good heavens, of course not! 
Why on earth should I love you? You were just som^ 
one to have a bit of fun with. You were an amuse- 
ment — a lark. How much more did you care for me? 

Alan. But it's not the same. I'm a man. 

Fanny. You're a man, and I was your little fancy. 
Well, I'm a woman, and you were my little fancy. You 
wouldn't prevent a woman enjoying herself as well as a 
man, if she takes it into her head ? 

Alan. But do you mean to say that you didn't care 
any more for me than a fellow cares for any girl he hap- 
pens to pick up? 

Fanny. Yes. Are you shocked? 

Alan. It's a bit thick; it is really! 

Fanny. You're a beauty to talk! 

Alan. It sounds so jolly immoral. I never thought 
of a girl looking on a chap just like that! I made sure 
you wanted to marry me if you got the chance. 

Fanny. No fear! You're not good enough for mc 
The chap Fanny Hawthorn weds has got to be made of 
different stuff from you, my lad. My husband, if ever 
I have one, will be a man, not a fellow who'll throw over 
his girl at his father's bidding! Strikes me the sons of 
these rich manufacturers are all much alike. They seem 
a bit weak in the upper story. It's their father's brass 
that's too much for them, happen! . . . You've no call 
to be afraid. I'm not going to disgrace you. But so 

Hindle Wakes 233 

long as I've to live my own life I don't see why I 
shouldn't choose what it's to be. 

Unheard of, is it not, that a Fanny should re- 
fuse to be made a " good woman," and that she 
should dare demand the right to live in her own 
way? It has always been considered the most 
wonderful event in the life of a girl if a young 
man of wealth, of position, of station came into 
her life and said, " I will take you as my wife until 
death do us part." 

But a new type of girlhood is in the making. 
We are developing the Fannies who learn in the 
school of life, the hardest, the cruelest and at the 
same time the most vital and instructive school. 
Why should Fanny marry a young man in order to 
become " good," any more than that he should 
marry her in order to become good? Is it not be- 
cause we have gone on for centuries believing that 
woman's value, her integrity and position in so- 
ciety center about her sex and consist only in her 
virtue, and that all other usefulness weighs naught 
in the balance against her " purity " ? If she dare 
express her sex as the Fannies do, we deny her in- 
dividual and social worth, and stamp her fallen. 

The past of a man is never questioned: no 
one inquires how many Fannies have been in his 
life. Yet man has the impudence to expect the 
Fannies to abstain till he is ready to bestow on 
them his name. 

234 Stanley Houghton 

** Hindle Wakes " is a much needed and impor- 
tant social lesson, — not because it necessarily in- 
volves the idea that every girl must have sex ex- 
perience before she meets the man she loves, but 
rather that she has the right to satisfy, if she so 
chooses, her emotional and sex demands like any 
other need of her mind and body. When the 
Fannies become conscious of that right, the rela- 
tion of the sexes will lose the shallow romanticism 
and artificial exaggeration that mystery has sur- 
rounded it with, and assume a wholesome, natural, 
and therefore healthy and normal expression. 



THE women's rights women who claim 
for their sex the most wonderful things 
in the way of creative achievement, will 
find it difficult to explain the fact that 
until the author of " Rutherford and Son " made 
her appearance, no country had produced a single 
woman dramatist of note. 

That is the more remarkable because woman 
has since time immemorial been a leading figure in 
histrionic art. Rachel, Sarah Bernhardt, Elea- 
nore Duse, and scores of others have had few male 

It can hardly be that woman is merely a repro- 
ducer and not a creator. We have but to recall 
such creative artists as Charlotte and Emily 
Bronte, George Sand, George Eliot, Mary WoU- 
stonecraft, Marie Bashkirtshev, Rosa Bonheur, 
Sophia Kovalevskaya and a host of others, to ap- 
preciate that woman has been a creative factor in 
literature, art and science. Not so in the drama, 
so far the stronghold exclusively of men. 

It is therefore an event for a woman to come 



Githa Sowerby 

to the fore who possesses such dramatic power, 
realistic grasp and artistic penetration as evi- 
denced by Githa Sowerby. 

The circumstance is the more remarkable be- 
cause Githa Sowerby is, according to her pub- 
lishers, barely out of her teens ; and though she be 
a genius, her exceptional maturity is a phenomenon 
rarely observed. Generally maturity comes only 
with experience and suffering. No one who has 
not felt the crushmg weight of the Rutherford 
atmosphere could have painted such a vivid and 
life-like picture. 

The basic theme in " Rutherford and Son " is 
not novel. Turgenev, Ibsen and such lesser art- 
ists as Sudermann and Stanley Houghton have 
dealt with it : the chasm between the old and the 
young, — the tragic struggle of parents against 
their children, the one frantically holding on, Ae 
other recklessly letting go. But " Rutherford 
and Son " is more than that. It is a picture of the 
paralyzing effect of tradition and institutionalism 
on all human life, growth, and change. 

John Rutherford, the owner of the firm 
" Rutherford and Son," is possessed by the phan- 
tom of the past — the thing handed down to hin\ 
by his father and which he must pass on to his son 
with undiminished luster; the thing that has turned 
his soul to iron and his heart to stone; the thing 
for the sake of which he has never known joy and 

Rutherford and Son 237 

because of which no one else must know joy, — 
** Rutherford and Son." 

The crushing weight of this inexorable monster 
on Rutherford and his children is significantly 
summed up by young John : 

John. Have you ever heard of Moloch? No. . . . 
Well, Moloch was a sort of a God . . . some time ago, 
you know, before Dick and his kind came along. They 
built his image with an ugly head ten times the size of 
a real head, with great wheels instead of legs, and set him 
up in the middle of a great dirty town. And they 
thought him a very important person indeed, and made 
sacrifices to him . . . human sacrifices ... to keep him 
going, you know. Out of every family they set aside one 
child to be an ofEering to him when it was big enough, and 
at last It became a sort of honor to be dedicated in this 
way, so much so, that the victims came themselves gladly 
to be crushed out of life under the great wheels. That 
was Moloch. 

Janet. Dedicated — we are dedicated — all of us — 
to Rutherfords*. 

Not only the Rutherford children, their with- 
ered Aunt Ann, and old Rutherford himself, but 
even Martin, the faithful servant in the employ of 
the Rutherfords for twenty-five years, is " dedi- 
cated," and when he ceases to be of use to their 
Moloch, he is turned into a thief and then cast 
off, even as Janet and John. 

Not love for John, his oldest son, or sympathy 

238 Githa Sowerby 

with the latter's wife and child induces old Ruihei' 
ford to forgive his son's marriage with a mere 
shop-girl, but because he needs John to serve the 
house of Rutherford. The one inexorable pur- 
pose, always and everl 

His second son RichMrd, who is in the ministry, 
and *' of no use " to old Rutherford* s God of 
stone, receives the loving assurance : " You were 
no good for my purpose, and there's the end; for 
the matter o' that, you might just as well never 
ha' been bom." 

For that matter, his daughter Janet might also 
never have been bom, except that she was " good 
enough " to look after her father's house, serve 
him, even helping take off his boots, and submitting 
without a murmur to the loveless, dismal life in 
the Rutherford home. Her father has sternly 
kept every suitor away, *' because no one in Grant- 
ley's good enough for us." Janet has become 
faded, sour and miserable with' yearning for love, 
for sunshine and warmth, and when she at last 
dares to partake of it secretly with her father's 
trusted man Martin, old Rutherford sets his iron 
heel upon her love, and drags it through the mud 
till it lies dead. 

Again, when he faces the spirit of rebellion in 
his son John, Rutherford crushes it without the 
slightest hesitation in behalf of his one obsession, 
his one God — the House of Rutherford. 

Rutherford and Son 239 

John has made an invention which holds great 
possibilities. By means of it he hopes to shake 
oflf the deadly grip of the Ruther fords'. He 
wants to become a free man and mold a new life 
for himself, for his wife and child. He knows his 
father will not credit the value of his invention. 
He dare not approach him: the Rutherford chil- 
dren have been held in dread of their parent too 

John turns to Martin, the faithful servant, the 
only one in the confidence of Rutherford. John 
feels himself safe with Martin. But he does not 
know that Martin, too, is dedicated to Moloch, 
broken by his twenty-five yeais of service, left 
without will, without purpose outside of the 

Martin tries to enlist Rutherford's interest in 
behalf of John. But the old man decides that 
John must turn over his invention to the House of 

Rutherford. What^s your receipt? 

John. I want to know where I stand. ... I want 
my price. 

Rutherford. Your price — your price? Damn your 
impudence, sir. ... So that's your line, is it? . . . This 
IS what I get for all I've done for you. . . . This is the 
result of the schooling I gave you. Fve toiled and 
sweated to give you a name you'd be proud to own — 
worked early and late, toiled like a dog when other men 


Githa Sowerby 

were taking their ease — plotted and planned to giet no 
chance, taken it and held it when it come till I could M 
burst with the struggle. Sell I You talk o' selling to bx, 
when everything you'll ever make couldn't pay back tk 
life I've given to you! 

John. Oh, I know, I know. I've been both for fi^t 
years. Only I've had no salary. 

Rutherford. You've been put to learn your business 
like any other young fellow. I began at the bottom - 
you've got to do the same. . . . Your father has lived 
here, and your grandfather before you. It's your in- 
heritance — can't you realize that ? — what you've got to 
come to when I'm under ground. We've made it for 
you, stone by stone, penny by penny, fighting througlJ 
thick and thin for close on a hundred years. . . . It's 
what you've got to do — or starve. You're my son — 
you've got to come after me. 

Janet knows her father better than John; she 
knows that '' no one ever stands out against 
father for long — or else they get so knocked 
about, they don't matter any more." Jane\ 
knows, and when the moment arrives that brings 
her father's blow upon her head, it does not come 
as a surprise to her. When old Rutherford dis- 
covers her relation with Martin, his indignation is 
as characteristic of the man as everything else in 
his life. It is not outraged morality or a father's 
love. It is always and forever the House of 
Rutherford. Moreover, the discovery of the 
affair between his daughter and his workman 

Rutherford and Son 241 

comes at a psychologic moment: Rutherford is 
determined to get hold of John's invention — for 
the Rutherfords, of course — and now that Mar- 
tin has broken faith with his master, his offense 
serves an easy pretext for Rutherford to break 
faith with Martin. He calls the old servant to his 
office and demands the receipt of John's invention, 
entrusted to Martin. On the latter*s refusal to 
betray John, the master plays on the man's loyalty 
to the Rutherfords. 

Rutherford. Rutherfords' is going down — down. I 
got to pull her up, somehow. There's one way out. . . * 
Mr. John's made this metal — a thing, I take your word 
for It, that's worth a fortune. And we're going to sit 
by and watch him fooling it away — selling it for a song 
to Miles or Jarvis, that we could break to-morrow if we 
had half a chance. . . . You've got but to put your hand 
in your pocket to save the place and you don't do it. 
You're with them — you're with the money-grubbing lit- 
tle souls that can't see beyond the next shilling they put 
in their pockets. . . . When men steal, Martin, they 
do it to gain something. If I steal this, what'll I gain 
by it? If I make money, what'll I buy with it? Pleas- 
ure, maybe?* Children to come after me — glad o' what 
I done? Tell me anything in the wide world that'd 
bring me joy, and I'll swear to you never to touch it. 
. . . If you give it to me what'll you gain by it? Not 
a farthing shall you ever have from me — no more than 
I get myself. 

Martin. And what will Mr. John gpt for it? 


Githa Sowerby 

Rutherford. Rutherfords* — when I'm gone Hcl 
thank you in ten years — he'll come to laugh at himseli 
— him and his price. He'll see the Big Thing one day, 
mebbe, like what I've done. He'll see that it was no 
more his than 'twas yours to give nor mine to take. . . • 
It's Rutherfords'. • . • Will you give it to me? 

Martin. I take shame to be doing it now. • • . He 
worked it out along o' me. Every time it changed he 
come running to show me like a bairn wi' a new toy. 

Rutherford. It's for Rutherfords'. . . . 

Rutherfords' ruthlessly marches on. If the 
Rutherford purpose does not shrink from corrupt- 
ing its most trusted servant, it surely will not bend 
before a daughter who has dared, even once in her 
life, to assert herself. 

Rutherford, How far's it gone? 

Janet. Right at first — I made up my mind that if 
you ever found out, I'd go right away, to put things 
straight. He wanted to tell you at the first. But I knew 
that it would be no use. ... It was / said not to tell 

Rutherford. Martin . . . that I trusted as I trust 

Janet. You haven't turned him away — you couldn't 
do that! 

Rutherford. That's my business. 

Janet. You couldn't do that . . . not Martin. . . . 

Rutherford. Leave it — leave it . • . Martin's my 
servant, that I pay wages to. I made a name for my 
children — a name respected in all the countryside — and 

Rutherford and Son 243 

you go with a workingman. . . . To-morrow you leave 
my house. D'ye understand? Ill have no light ways 
under my roof. No one shall say I winked at it. You 
can bide the night. To-morrow when I come in Tm to 
find ye gone. . . . Your name shan't be spoken in my 
house . . . never again. 

Janet. Oh, you've no pity. ... I was thirty-six. 
Gone sour. Nobody'd ever come after me. Not even 
when I was young. You took care o' that. Half of my 
life was gone, well-nigh all of it that mattered. . . . 
Martin loves me honest. Don't you come near! Don't 
you touch that! . . . You think that I'm sorry you've 
found out — you think you've done for me when you use 
shameful words on me and turn me out o' your house. 
You've let me out o' jail! Whatever happens to me 
now, I shan't go on living as I lived here. Whatever 
Martin's done, he's taken me from you. You've ruined 
my life, you with your getting on. I've loved in wretch- 
edness, all the joy I ever had made wicked by the 
fear o' you. . . . Who are you? Who are you? A 
man — a man that takes power to himself, power to 
gather people to him and use them as he wills — a man 
that'd take the blood of life itself and put it into the 
Works — into Rutherfords'. And what ha' you got by it 
— what? You've got Dick, that you've bullied till he's a 
fool — John, that's waiting for the time when he can 
sell what you've done — and you got me — me to take 
your boots off at night — to well-nigh wish you dead 
when I had to touch you. . . . Now! . . . Now you 
know it! 

244 Githa Sowerby 

But for the great love in her heart, Janet could 
not have found courage to face her father as she 
did. But love gives strength ; it instills hope and 
faith, and kindles anew the fires of life. Why, 
then, should it not be strong enough to break the 
fetters of -even Rutherf ords' ? Such a love only 
those famished for affection and warmth can feel, 
and Janet was famished for life. 

Janet. I had a dream — a dream that I was in a place 
wi* flowers, in the summer-time, white and thick like they 
never grow on the moor — but it was the moor — a place 
near Martin's cottage. And I dreamt that he came to 
me with the look he had when I was a little lass, with his 
head up and the lie gone out of his eyes. All the time 
I knew I was on my bed in my room here — but it was 
as if sweetness poured into me, spreading and covering 
me like the water in the tarn when the rains are heavy 
in the fells. . . . That's why I dreamt of him so last 
night. It was as if all that was best in me was in that 
dream — what I was as a bairn and what I'm going to 
be. He couldn't help but love me. It was a message — 
I couldn't have thought of it by myself. It's something 
that's come to me — here {putting her hands on her 
breast). Part of me! 

All that lay dormant in Janet now turns into 
glowing fire at the touch of Spring. But in 
Martin life has been marred, strangled by the iron 
hand of Rutherfords*. 

Rutherford and Son 245 

Martin. Turned away I am, sure enough. Twenty- 
five years. And in a minute it's broke. Wi* two words. 

Janet. You say that now because your heart's cold 
with the trouble. But itll warm again — it'll warm 
again. Til warm it out of my own heart, Martin — my 
heart that can't be made cold. 

Martin. I'd rather ha' died than he turn me away. 
I'd ha' lost everything in the world to know that I was 
true to 'm, like I was till you looked at me wi' the love 
in your face. It was a great love ye gave me — you in 
your grand hoose wi' your delicate ways. But it's broke 

Janet, But — it's just the same with us. Just the 
same as ever it was. 

Martin. Aye. But there's no mending, wi' the likes 
o' him. 

Janet. What's there to mend? What's there to mend 
except what's bound you like a slave all the years? 
You're free — free for the first time since you were a 
lad mebbe. We'll begin again. We'll be happy — 
happy. You and me, free in the world! All the time 
that's been '11 be just like a dream that's past, a waiting 
time afore we found each other — the long winter afore 
the flowers come out white and thick on the moors — 

Martin. Twenty-five years ago he took me. . . . It's 
too long to change. . . . I'll never do his work no more; 
but it's like as if he'd be my master just the same — 
till I die — 

Janet. Listen, Martin. Listen to me. You've 
worked all your life for him, ever since you were a little 

246 Githa Sowerby 

lad. Early and late youVe been at the Works— woA- 
ing — working — for him. 

Martin, Gladly ! 

Janet, Now and then he give you a kind word- 
when you were wearied out mebbe — and your thougjw 
might ha' turned to what other men's lives were, wi 
time for rest and pleasure. You didn't see through him, 
you wi* your big heart, Martin. You were too ncartt 
see, like I was till Mary came. You worked gjaiily 
maybe — but all the time your life was going into 
Rutherfords' — your manhood into the place he's builL 
He's had you, Martin, — like he's had me, and all of us. 
We used to say he was hard and ill-tempered. Bad to 
do with in the house — we fell silent when he came in 
— we couldn't see for the little things, — we couldn't see 
the years passing because of the days. And all the time 
it was our lives he was taking bit by bit — our lives that 
we'll never get back. . . . Now's our chance at last! 
He's turned us both away, me as well as you. We two 
he's sent out into the world together. Free. He's done 
it himself of his own will. It's ours to take, Martin — 
our happiness. We'll get it in spite of him. He'd kill 
it if he could. 

The cruelty of it, that the Rutherfords never 
kill with one blow : never so merciful are they. In 
their ruthless march they strangle inch by inch, 
shed the blood of life drop by drop, until they 
have broken the very spirit of man and made him 
as helpless and pitiful as Martin, — a trembling 
leaf tossed about by the winds. 

Rutherford and Son 247 


A picture of such stirring social and human im- 
portance that no one, except he who has reached 
the stage of Martin, can escape its effect. Yet 
even more significant is the inevitability of the 
doom of the Rutherfords as embodied in the wis- 
dom of Mary, John's wife. 

When her husband steals his father's money — 
a very small part indeed compared with what the 
father had stolen from him — he leaves the hate- 
ful place and Mary remains to face the master. 
For the sake of her child she strikes a bargain with 

Mary, A bargain is where one person has something 
to sell that another wants to buy. There's no love in it 
— only money — money that pays for life. I've got 
something to sell that you want to buy. 

Rutherford. What's that? 

Mary. My son. You've lost everything you've had 
in the world. John's gone — and Richard — and Janet. 
They won't come back. You're alone now and getting 
old, with no one to come after you. When you die 
Rutherfords' will be sold — somebody'U buy it and give 
It a new name perhaps, and no one will even remember 
that you made it. That'll be the end of all your work. 
Just — nothing. You've thought of that. . . . It's for 
my boy. I want — a chance of life for him — his place 
in the world. John can't give him that, because he's 
made so. If I went to London and worked my hardest 
I'd get twenty-five shillings a week. We've failed. 
From you I can get when I want for my boy. I want 

248 Githa Sowerby 

— all the good common things : a good house, good k 
warmth. He's a delicate little thing now, but he'll gi 
strong like other children. . . . Give me what I 
and in return 111 give you — him. On one condit 
I'm to stay on here. I won't trouble you — you nee( 
speak to me or see me unless you want to. For ten yi 
he's to be absolutely mine, to do what I like with. 1 
mustn't interfere — you mustn't tell him to do things 
frighten him. He's mine for ten years more. 

Rutherford. And after that? 

Mary. He'll be yours. 

Rutherford. To train up. For Rutherf ords' ? 

Mary. Yes. 

Rutherford. After all? After Dick, that I've bul: 
till he's a fool? John, that's wished me dead? 

Mary. In ten years you'll be an old man; you w( 
be able to make people afraid of you any more. 

When I saw the masterly presentation of 
play on the stage, Mary's bargain looked uni 
and incongruous. It seemed Impossible to 
that a mother who really loves her child she 
want It to be In any way connected with the Rut! 
fords'. But after repeatedly rereading the pi 
I was convinced by Mary's simple statemc 
" In ten years you'll be an old man ; you won't 
able to make people afraid of you any moi 
Most deeply true. The Rutherfords are boi 
by time, by the eternal forces of change. Tl 
influence on human life is Indeed terrible. ^ 

Rutherford and Son 249 

withstanding it all, however, they are fighting a 
losing game. They are growing old, already too 
old to make anyone afraid. Change and innova- 
tion are marching on, and the Rutherfords must 
make place for the young generation knocking at 
the gates. 



MOST Americans know about the Irisk 
people only that they are not averse 
to drink, and that they make bnital 
policemen and corrupt politicians. 
But those who are familiar with the revolutionary 
movements of the past are aware of the fortitude 
and courage, aye, of the heroism of the Irish, 
manifested during their uprisings, and especiaDy 
in the Fenian movement — the people's revolt 
against political despotism and land robbery. 

And though for years Ireland has contributed to 
the very worst features of American life, those in- 
terested in the fate of its people did not despair; 
they knew that the spirit of unrest in Ireland was 
not appeased, and that it would make itself felt 
again in no uncertain form. 

The cultural and rebellious awakening in that 
country within the last twenty-five years once more 
proves that neither God nor King can for long 
suppress the manifestation of the latent possibili- 
ties of a people. The possibilities of the Irish 


The Irish Drama 251 

must indeed be great if they could inspire the rich 
humor of a Lady Gregory, the deep symbolism of 
a Yeats, the poetic fancy of a Synge, and the re- 
bellion of a Robinson and Murray. 

Only a people unspoiled by the dulling hand 
of civilization and free from artifice can retain 
such simplicity of faith and remain so imaginative, 
so full of fancy and dreams, wild and fiery, which 
have kindled the creative spark in the Irish dram- 
atists of our time. It is true that the work of only 
the younger element among them is of social sig- 
nificance, yet all of them have rendered their peo- 
ple and the rest of the world a cultural service of 
no mean value. William Butler Yeats is among 
the latter, together with Synge and Lady Gregory; 
his art, though deep In human appeal, has no bear- 
ing on the pressing questions of our time. Mr. 
Yeats himself would repudiate any implication 
of a social character, as he considers such dramas 1 
too ** topical " and therefore " half bad " plays. 
In view of this attitude. It is difficult to reconcile 
his standard bf true art with the repertoire of the 
Abbey Theater, which consists mainly of social 
dramas. Still more difficult is it to account for his 
work, " Where There is Nothing," which is no 
less social m Its philosophy and tendency than Ib- 
sen's " Brand." 

25^ William Butler Yeats 


" Where There Is Nothing " is as true an inter- 
pretation of the philosophy of Anarchism as could 
be given by its best exponents. I say this not out 
of any wish to tag Mr. Yeats, but because the ideal 
of Paul Ruttledge, the hero of the play, is nothing 
less than Anarchism applied to everyday life. 

Paul Ruttledge, z man of wealth, comes to the 
conclusion, after a long process of development 
and growth, that riches are wrong, and that the 
life of the propertied is artificial, useless and in- 

Paul Ruttledge. When I hear these people talking I 
always hear some organized or vested interest chirp or 
quack, as it does in the newspapers. I would like to 
have great iron claws, and to put them about the pillars, 
and to pull and pull till ever3rthing fell into pieces. . . . 
Sometimes I dream I am pulling down my own house, 
and sometimes it is the whole world that I am pulling 
down. . • . When everything was pulled down we would 
have more room to get drunk in, to drink contentedly out 
of the cup of life, out of the drunken cup of life. 

He decides to give up his position and wealth 
and cast his lot in with the tinkers — an element 
we in America know as " hoboes," men who tramp 
the highways making their living as they go about, 
mending kettles and pots, earning an honest penny 
without obligation or responsibility to anyone. 

Where There Is Nothing 253 

jPaul Rutttedge longs for the freedom of the road, 
— to sleep under the open sky, to count the stars, 
to be free. He throws off all artificial restraint 
and is received with open arms by the tinkers. 
To identify himself more closely with theif life, he 
marries a tinker's daughter — not according to 
the rites of State or Church, but in true tinker 
fashion — in freedom — bound only by the prom- 
ise to be faithful and " not hurt each other." 

In honor of the occasion, Paul tenders to his 
comrades and the people of the neighborhood a 
grand feast, full of the spirit of life's joy, — an out- 
pouring of gladness that lasts a whole week. 

PauVs brother, his friends, and the authorities 
are incensed over the carousal. They demand 
that he terminate the " drunken orgy." 

Mr. Joyce. This is a disgraceful business, Paul; the 
whole countryside is demoralized. There is not a man 
who has come to. sensible years who is not drunk. 

Mr, Dowler. This is a flagrant violation of all pro- 
priety. Society is shaken to its roots. My own serv- 
ants have been led astray by the free drinks that are being 
given in the village. My butler, who has been with mc 
for seven years, has not been seen for the last two days. 

Mr, Algie, I endorse his sentiments completely. 
There has not been a stroke of work done for the last 
week. The hay is lying in ridges where it has been cut, 
there is not a man to be found to water the cattle. It is 
impossible to get as much as a horse shod in the vil- 


William Butler Yeats 

Paul Ruttledge. I think you have something to 9}» 
Colonel Lawley? 

Colonel Lawley. I have undoubtedly. I want ti 
know when law and order are to be reestablished. Tk 
police have been quite unable to cope vi^ith the disonk 
Some of them have themselves got drunk. If my aJvix 
had been taken the military would have been called in. 

Mr. Green. The military are not indispensabk « 
occasions like the present. There are plenty of pofa 
coming now. We have wired to Dublin for them, diej 
will be here by the four o'clock train. 

Paul Ruttledge. But you have not told me what y« 
have come here for. Is there anything I can do fa 

Mr. Green. We have come to request you to go to tk 
public-houses, to stop the free drinks, to send the pcopfc 
back to their work. As for those tinkers, the law will 
deal with them when the police arrive. 

Paul Ruttledge. I wanted to give a little pleasure to 
my fellow-creatures. 

Mr. Dowler. This seems rather a lovir form of pleas- 

Paul Ruttledge. I daresay it seems to you a little vio- 
? lent. But the poor have very few hours in which to en- 
joy themselves; they must take their pleasure raw; they 
haven't the time to cook it. Have we not tried sobriety? 
Do you like it ? I found it very dull. . . . Think what 
I it is to them to have their imagination like a blazing tar 
i barrel for a whole week. Work could never bring them 
such blessedness as that. 

Where There Is Nothing 255 

Mr. Dowler, Everyone knows there is no more valua- 
ble blessing than work. 

Paul Ruttledge decides to put his visitors " on 
trial," to let them see themselves as they are in all 
their hypocrisy, all their corruption. 

He charges die military man, Colonel Lawley, 
with calling himself a Christian, yet following the 
business of man-killing. The Colonel is forced to 
admit that he had ordered his men to fight in a 
war, of the justice of which they knew nothing, or 
did not believe in, and yet it is ** the doctrine of 
your Christian church, of your Catholic church, 
that he who fights in an unjust war, knowing it to 
be unjust, loses his own soul." Of the rich man 
Dowler, Paul Ruttledge demands whether he could 
pass through the inside of a finger ring, and on 
Paul's attention being called by one of the tinkers 
to the fine coat of Mr. Dowler, he tells him to help 
himself to it. Threatened by Mr. Green, the 
spokesman of the law, with encouraging robbery, 
Ruttledge admonishes him. 

Ruttledge. Remember the commandment, " Give to ' 
him that asketh thee " ; and the hard commandment goes 
even farther, " Him that taketh thy cloak forbid not to 
take thy coat also." 

But the worst indictment Ruttledge hurls against 
Mr. Green. The other professed Christians kill. 

256 William Butler Yeats 

murder, do not love their enemies, and do not give 
to any man that asks of them. But the Greens, 
Ruttledge says, are the worst of all. For the 
others break the law of Christ for their own 
pleasure, but '* you take pay for breaking it; when 
their goods are taken away you condemn the taker; 
when they are smitten on one cheek you punish the 
smiter. You encourage them in their breaking of 
the Law of Christ." 

For several years Ruttledge lives the life of the 
tinkers. But of weak physique, he finds himself 
unable to withstand the rigors of the road. His 
health breaks down, and his faithful comrades 
carry him to his native town and bring him to a 
monastery where Paul is cared for by the priests. 
While there he begins to preach a wonderful 
gospel, a gospel strange to the friars and the su- 
perior, — so rebellious and terrible that he is de- 
clared a disenter, a heathen and a dangerous char- 

Paul Ruttledge. Now I can give you the message that 
has come to me. . . . Lay down your palm branches b^ 
fore this altar; you have brought them as a sign that the 
walls are beginning to be broken up, that we are going 
back to the joy of the green earth. . . . For a long time 
after their making men and women wandered here and 
there, half blind from the drunkenness of Eternity; they 
had not yet forgotten that the green Earth was the Love 
of God, and that all Life was the Will of God, and so 

Where There Is Nothing 257 

they wept and laughed and hated according to the impulse 
of their hearts. They gathered the great Earth to their 
breasts and their lips, ... in what they believed would 
be an eternal kiss. It was then that the temptation be- 
gan. The men and women listened to them, and be- 
cause when they had lived ... in mother wit and nat- 
ural kindness, they sometimes did one another an injury, 
they thought that it would be better to be safe than to be 
blessed, they made the Laws. The Laws were the first 
sin. They were the first mouthful of the apple; the mo- 
ment man had made them he began to die; we must put ' 
out. the Laws as I put out this candle. And when they 
had lived amidst the green Earth that is the Love of 
God, they were sometimes wetted by the rain, and some- 
times cold and hungry, and sometimes alone from one 
another; they thought it would be better to be com- 
fortable than to be blessed. They began to build big 
houses and big towns. They grew wealthy and they sat 
chattering at their doors; and the embrace that was to 
have been eternal ended. . . . We must put out the 
towns as I put out this candle. But that is not all, for 
man created a worse thing. . . . Man built up the 
Church. We must destroy the Church, we must put it \ 
out as I put out this candle. . . , We must destroy ^ 
everything that has Law and Number. 

The rebel is driven from the monastery. He is 
followed by only two faithful friars, his disciples, 
who go among the people to disseminate the new 
gospel. But the people fail to understand them. 
Immersed in darkness and superstition, they look 

258 William Butler Yeats 

upon these strange men as evildoers. They ac- 
cuse them of casting an evil spell on their cattle 
and disturbing the people's peace. The path of 
the crusader is thorny, and Colman, the friar di» 
ciple of Paul, though faithful for a time, becomes 
discouraged in the face of opposition and persecu- 
tion. He weakens. 

Colman. It's no use stopping vraiting for the wind; 
if we have anything to say that's worth the people lis- 
tening to, we must bring them to hear it one way or an- 
other. Now, it is what I was saying to Aloysius, we 
must begin teaching them to make things, they never hd 
the chance of any instruction of this sort here. Those 
and other things, we got a good training in the old days. 
And we'll get a grant from the Technical Board. The 
Board pays up to four hundred pounds to some of its 

Paul Ruttledge. Oh, I understand ; you will sell them. 
And what about the dividing of the money? You will 
need to make laws about that. Oh, we will grow quite 
rich in time. 

Colman, We'll build workshops and houses for those 
who come to work from a distance, good houses, slated, 
not thatched. . . . Thej^ will think so much more of 
our teaching when we have got them under our influence 
by other things. Of course we will teach them their 
meditations, and give them a regular religious life. We 
must settle out some little place for them to pray in — 
there's a high gable over there where we could hang a 
bell — 

Where There Is Nothing 259 

Paul Ruttledge. Oh, yes, I understand. You would 
'weave them together like this, you would add one thing 
to another, laws and money and church and bells, till you 
had got everything back again that you have escaped 
from. But it is my business to tear things asunder. 

Aloysius, Brother Paul, it is what I am thinking; 
now the tinkers have come back to you, you could begin 
to gather a sort of an army; you can't fight your battle 
without an army. They would call to the other tinkers, 
and the tramps and the beggars, and the sieve-makers and 
all the wandering people. It would be a great army. 

Paul Ruttledge, Yes, that would be a great army, a 
great wandering army. 

Aloysius. The people would be afraid to refuse us 
then ; we would march on — 

Paul Ruttledge. We could march on. We could j 
march on the towns, and we could break up all settled or- 
der ; we could bring back the old joyful, dangerous, indi- • 
vidual life. We would have banners. We will have ^ 
one great banner that will go in front, it will take two 
men to carry it, and on it we will have Laughter — 

Aloysius. That will be the banner for the front. 
We will have different troops, we will have captains to 
organize them, to give them orders. 

Paul Ruttledge. To organize? That is to bring in 
law and number. Organize — organize — that is how 
all the mischief has been done. I was forgetting, — we 
cannot destroy the world with armies; it is inside our 
minds that it must be destroyed. 


William Butler Yeats 

Deserted, Paul Ruttledge stands alone in b 
crusade, like most iconoclasts. Misunderstool 
and persecuted, he finally meets his death at k 
hands of the infuriated mab. 

" Where There Is Nothing " is of great social 
significance, deeply revolutionary in the sense that 
it carries the message of the destruction of evq 
institution — State, Property, and Church— tht 
enslaves humanity. For where there is nothinj, 
there man begins. 

A certain critic characterized this play as i 
; " statement of revolt against the despotism of 
. facts." Is there a despotism more compelling and 
destructive than that of the facts of property, of 
the State and Church? But "Where There Is 
Nothing " is not merely a ** statement '* of revolt 
It embodies the spirit of revolt itself, of that most 
constructive revolt which begins with the destruc- 
tion of every obstacle in the path of the new life 
that is to grow on the debris of the old, when the 
paralyzing yoke of institutionalism shall have been 
broken, and man left free to enjoy Life and 



TIMOTHY HURLEY, an old farmer, 
slaves all his life and mortgages his farm 
in order to enable his children to lead an 
idle, parasitic life. 
Started on this road toward so-called culture by 
the school-master, fVilltam Lordan, Hurley's chil- 
dren leave their father's farm and in due time es- 
tablish themselves in society as priest, lawyer, sec- 
retary and chemist, respectively. 

The secretary son is ashamed of his lowly origin 
and denies it. The lawyer son is much more con- 
cerned with his motor car than with the condition 
of the farm that has helped him on his feet. The 
priest has departed for America, there to collect 
funds for Church work. Only Maurice, the 
youngest son of Timothy Hurley, remains at home 
as the farm drudge, the typical man with the hoe. 

Jack Hurley, the chemist, and Timothy's only 
daughter Mary, retain some loyalty to the old 
place, but when they return after an absence of 
years, they find themselves out of touch with farm 

life, and they too turn their back on their native 


262 Lenox Robinson 

heath. Jack Hurley's notion of the country i$ 
that of most city people : nature is beautiful, die 
scenery lovely, so long as it is someone else 
has to labor in the scorching sun, to plow and 
in the sweat of his brow. 

Jack and his wife Mildred are both extremely 
romantic about the farm. 

Jack. It stands to reason farming must pay enor- 
mously. Take a field of oats, for instance; every grain 
that's sown gives a huge percentage in return. ... I 
don't know exactly how many grains a stalk carries, but 
several hundred Fm sure . . . why, there's no invest- 
ment in the world would give you a return like that. 

But soon they discover that every grain of corn 
does not yield hundreds of dollars. 

Maurice. You can't have a solicitor, and a priest, and 
a chemist in a family without spending money, and for 
the last ten years youVe been all drawing money out of 
the farm . . . there's no more to drain now. ... Oh, 
I suppose you think I'm a bloody fool not to be able to 
make it pay; but sure what chance have I and I never 
taught how to farm? There was money and education 
wanted to make priests and doctors and gentlemen of you 
all, and wasn't there money an' education wanted to make 
a farmer of me? No; nothing taught me only what I 
picked up from my father and the men, and never a bit of 
fresh money to put into the farm only it all kept to make 
a solicitor of Bob and a chemist of you. 

Harvest 263 

During Jack's visit to the farm a fire breaks out 
and several buildings on the place are destroyed. 
Much to the horror of the well-bred Jack, he learns 
that his father himself had lit the match in order 
to get '* compensation." He sternly upbraids the 
old farmer. 

Jack, Didn't you see yourself how dishonest it was? 

Timothy. Maybe I did, but I saw something more, 
and that was that I was on the way to being put out of 
the farm. 

Jack is outraged; he threatens to inform on his 
own people and offers to stay on the farm to help 
with the work. But two weeks' experience in the 
field beneath the burning sun is more than delicate 
Jack can stand. He suffers fainting spells, and 
is in the end prevailed upon by his wife to leave. 

Mary, old Hurley's daughter, also returns to the 
farm for rest and quiet. But she finds no peace 
there, for the city is too much in her blood. There 
is, moreover, another lure she cannot escape. 

Mary, I was too well educated to be a servant, and 
I was never happy as one, so to better myself I learned 
typing. • . . It's a hard life, Jack, and I soon found out 
how hard it was, and I was as dissatisfied as ever. Then 
there only seemed one way out of it . . . and he . . . 
my employer, I mean. • . . I went into it deliberately 
with my eyes open. You sec, a woman I knew chucked 
typing and went in for this . • • and I saw what a splen- 

264 Lenox Robinson 

did time she had, and how happy she Avas — and I was so 
miserably unhappy — and how she had everything she 
wanted and I had nothing, and . . . and ... But this 
life made me unhappy, too, and so in desperation I came 
home; but IVe grown too far away from it all, and now 
Fm going back. Don't you see, Jack, I'm not happy 
here. I thought if I could get home to the farm and the 
old simple life it would be all right, but it isn't. Every- 
thing jars on me, the roughness and the hard living and 
the coarse food — oh, it seems ridiculous — but they make 
me physically ill. I always thought, if I could get away 
home to Knockmalgloss I could start fair again. . . . 
So I came home, and everything is the same^ and every- 
one thinks that Fm as pure and innocent as when I went 
away, but . . . but . . . But, Jack, the dreadful thing 
is I want to go back. . . . Fm longing for that life, and 
its excitement and splendor and color. 

In her misery and struggle a great faith sus- 
tains Mary and keeps her from ruin. It is the 
thought of her father, in whom she believes im- 
plicitly as her ideal of honesty, strength and incor- 
ruptibility. The shock is terrible when she learns 
that her father, even her father, has fallen a victim 
to the cruel struggle of life, — that her father him- 
self set fire to the buildings. 

Mary, And I thought he was so simple, so innocent, 
so unspoiled! . . . Father, the simple, honest peasant, 
the only decent one of us. I cried all last night at the 
contrast! His unselfishness, his simplicity, . . . Why, 
we're all equally bad now — he and I — we both sell 

Harvest 265 

ourselves, he for the price of those old houses and I for 
a few years of splendor and happiness. • • • 

The only one whom life seems to teach nothing 
is Schoolmaster Lordan. Oblivious of the stress 
and storm of reality, he continues to be enraptured 
with education, with culture, with the opportunities 
offered by the large cities. He is particularly 
proud of the Hurley children. 

Lordan. The way you Ve all got on ! I tell you what, 
if every boy and girl I ever taught had turned out a fail- 
ure I'd feel content and satisfied when I looked at all of 
you and saw what I've made of you. 

Mary. What you've made of us? I wonder do you 
really know what you've made of us? 

Lordan, Isn't it easily seen? One with a motor car, 
no less. ... It was good, sound seed I sowed long ago 
in the little schoolhouse and it's to-day you're all reaping 
the harvest. 

** Harvest " is a grim picture of civilization in 
its especially demoralizing effects upon the people 
who spring from the soil. The mock culture and 
shallow education which inspire peasant folk with 
awe, which lure the children away from home, 
only to crush the vitality out of them or to turn 
them into cowards and compromisers. The trag- 
edy of a civilization that dooms the tillers of the 
soil to a dreary monotony of hard toil with little 
return, or charms them to destruction with the 

266 Lenox Robinson 

false glow of city culture and ease ! Greater st 
this tragedy in a country like Ireland, its peoj 
taxed to the very marrow and exploited to t 
verge of stan^ation, leaving the young gene 
tion no opening, no opportunity in life. 

It is inevitable that the sons and daughters 
Ireland, robust in body and spirit, yearning 
things better and bigger, should desert her. I 
as Mary says, " When the sun sets here, it's aU 
dark and cold and dreary,** But the young n( 
light and warmth — and these are not in 
valley of ever-present misery and want. 

" Harvest " is an expressive picture of the 
cial background of the Iri^ people, a backgroi 
somber and unpromising but for the streak 
dawn that pierces that country's dark horizon 
the form of the inherent and irrepressible fight 
spirit of the true Irishman, the spirit of the Fen 
revolt whose fires often slumber but are never ] 
out, all the ravages of our false civilization n 



AURICE HARTE " portrays the 
most sinister force which holds the 
Irish people in awe — that heaviest 
of all bondage, priestcraft. 
Michael Harte, his wife Ellen, and their son 
Owen are bent on one purpose; to make a priest 
of their youngest child Maurice. The mother es- 
pecially has no other ambition in life than to see 
her son ** priested." No higher ideal to most 
Catholic mothers than to consecrate their favorite 
son to the glory of God. 

What it has cost the Hartes to attaintheir am- 
bition and hope is revealed by Ellen Harte in the 
conversation with her sister and later with her 
husband, when he informs her that he cannot bor- 
row any more money to continue the boy in the 

Mrs, Harte, If Michael and myself have our son 
nearly a priest this day, 'tis no small price at all we have 
paid for it. . . . Isn't it the terrible thing, every time you 
look through that window, to have the fear in your heart 


268 T. G. Murray 

that 'tis the process-server you'll see and he comit 
the borecn? 

Old Harte impoverishes himself to enabL 
son to finish his studies. He has borrowed \ 
and left, till his resources are now entirelj 
hausted. But he is compelled to try anc 

Michael, He made out 'twas as good as insulting 
making such a small pa3niient, and the money that's ( 
to be so heavy. "If you don't wish to sign that n 
says he, " you needn't. It don't matter at all to mc 
way or the other, for before the next Quarter Ses 
'tis Andy DriscoU, the process-server, will be marc 
up to your door." So what could I do but sign ? "V 
'twas how he turned on me in a red passion. " 
isn't it a scandal, Michael Harte," says he, " for the 
o' you, with your name on them books there for a 1 
dred and fifty pounds, and you with only the grass of 
or ten cows, to be making your son a priest ? The lik 
it," says he, " was never heard of before." 

Mrs. Harte. What business was it of his, I'd lik 
know? Jealous of us! There's no fear any of his i 
will ever be anything much ! 

Michael. I was thinking it might do Maurice » 
harm with the Bishop if it came out on the papers \ 
we were up before the judge for a civil bill. 

Mrs. Harte, • • • 'Tisn't once or twice I told 
that I had my heart set on hearing Maurice say the n 
riage words over his own brother. 

Maurice Harte 269 

Maurice comes home for the summer vacation, 
looking pale and emaciated. His mother ascribes 
his condition to the bad city air and hard study at 
school. But Maurice suffers from a different 
cause. His is a mental struggle: the maddening 
struggle of doubt, the realization that he has lost 
his faith, that he has no vocation, and that he must 
give up his divinity studies. He knows how fa- 
natically bent his people are on having him or- 
dained, and he is tortured by the grief his decision 
will cause his parents. His heart is breaking as he 
at last determines to inform them. 

He reasons and pleads with his parents and im- 
plores them not to drive him back to college. But 
they cannot understand. They remain deaf to his 
arguments; pitifully they beg him not to fail them, 
not to disappoint the hope of a lifetime. When it 
all proves of no avail, they finally disclose to 
Maurice their gnawing secret: the farm has been 
mortgaged and many debts incurred for the sake 
of enabling him to attain to the priesthood. 

Michael, Maurice, would you break our hearts? 

Maurice, Father, would you have your son live a life 
of sacrilege? Would you, Father? Would you? 

Mrs. Harte, That's only foolish talk. Aren't you 
every bit as good as the next? 

Maurice, I may be, but I haven't a vocation. . . . 
My mind is finally made up. 

Mrs, Harte, Maurice, listen to mc — listen to me! 

270 T. G. Murray 

. . . If it went out about you this day, isn't it dcstrojJ 
forever we'd be? Look! The story wouldn't be cast ii 
Macroom when we'd have the bailifiFs walking in ^ 
door. The whole world knows he i$ to be priested nal 
June, and only for the great respect they have for is 
through the means o' that, 'tisn't James McCarthy alone, 
but every other one o' them "would come down on « 
straight for their money. In one w^eek there wouldn't 
be a cow left by us, nor a horse, nor a lamb, nor anything 
at all ! . . . Look at them books. 'Tis about time job 
should know how we stand here. . • . God knows, I 
wouldn't be hard on you at all, but look at the great loaJ 
o' money that's on us this day, and mostly all on your ac- 

Maurice, Mother, don't make my cross harder tt 

Mrs. Harte. An' would you be seeing a heavier cross 
put on them that did all that mortal man and woman 
could do for you ? 

Maurice. Look! FU wear the flesh ofl my bones, but 
in pity spare me! 

Mrs. Harte. And will you have no pity at all on us 
and on Owen here, that have slaved for you all our 
lives ? 

Maurice. Mother ! Mother ! 

Mrs. Harte. You'll go back? 'Tis only a mistake? 

Maurice. Great God of Heaven ! • . . you'll kill me. 

Michael. You'll go back, Maurice? The vocation 
will come to you in time with the help of God. It will, 

Maurice. Don't ask me! Don't ask me! 

Maurice Harte 271 

. , Mrs. Harte. If you don't how can I ever face outside 

_ Jiis door or lift my head again ? • . . How could I listen 

_jo the neighbors making pity for me, and many a one o' 

,Jiem only glad in their hearts? How could I ever face 

.^ again into town o* Macroom? 

Maurice, Oh, don't. 

Mrs. Harte. I tell you, Maurice, I'd rather be lying 
^clead a thousand times in the graveyard over Killnamar- 
'tyra — 

Maurice. Stop, Mother, stop! I'll — I'll go back — 
^is — as you all wish it. 

Nine months later there is general rejoicing at 
the Hartes': Maurice has passed his examina- 
tions with flying colors ; he is about to be ordained, 
and he is to officiate at the wedding of his brother 
Owen and his wealthy bride. 

Ellen Harte plans to give her son a royal wel- 
come. Great preparations are on foot to greet 
the return of Maurice. He comes back — not in 
the glory and triumph expected by his people, but 
a driveling idiot. His mental struggle, the agony 
of whipping himself to the hated task, proved too 
much for him, and Maurice is sacrificed on the 
altar of superstition and submission to paternal 

In the whole range of the Irish drama " Mau- 
rice Harte " is the most Irish, because nowhere 
does Catholicism demand so many victims as in 
that unfortunate land. But in a deeper sense the 


T. G. Murray 

play is of that social importance that knows »] 
limit of race or creed. 

There is no boundary of land or time to thc^l 
sistance of the human mind to coercion ; it is woit^j 
wide. Equally so is the rebellion of youth agaiiBi| 
the tyranny of parents. But above all does 
play mirror the self-centered, narrow, ambid(»| 
love of the mother, so disastrous to the happinal 
and peace of her child. For it is Ellen Hflftt, 
rather than the father, who forces Af^JttHc^backto 
his studies. From whatever viewpoint, however,' 
" Maurice Harte " be considered, it carries a 
dramatically powerful message of wide social sif 


PEOPLE outside of Russia, especially 
Anglo-Saxons, have one great objection 
to the Russian drama: it is too sad, too 
gloomy. It is often asked, " Why is the 
Russian drama so pessimistic? " The answer is: 
the Russian drama, like all Russian culture, has 
been conceived in the sorrow of the people; it was 
born in their woe and struggle. Anything thus 
conceived cannot be very joyous or amusing. 

It is no exaggeration to say that in no other 
country are the creative artists so interwoven, so 
much at one with the people. This is not only 
true of men like Turgenev, Tolstoy and the dram- 
atists of modern times. It applies also to Gogol, 
who in ** The Inspector " and " Dead Souls " 
spoke in behalf of the people, appealing to the 
conscience of Russia. The same is true of Dos- 
toyevsky, of the poets Nekrassov, Nadson, and 
others. In fact, all the great Russian artists have 
gone to the people for their inspiration, as to the 
source of all life. That explains the depth and 
the humanity of Russian literature. 


274 ^^^ Russian Drama 

The modern drama naturally suggests Henrik 
Ibsen as its pioneer. But prior to him, Gogol 
utilized the drama as a vehicle for popularizing the 
social issues of his time. In " The Inspector,'' 
(Revizor) he portrays the corruption, graft and 
extortion rampant in the governmental depart- 
ments. If we were to Anglicize the names of the 
characters in "The Inspector," and forget for a 
moment that it was a Russian who wrote the play, 
the criticism contained therein would apply with 
similar force to present-day America, and to every 
other modern country. Gogol touched the deep- 
est sores of social magnitude and marked the be- 
ginning of the realistic drama in Russia. 

However, it is not within the scope of this work 
to discuss the drama of Gogol's era. I shall be- 
gin with Tolstoy, because he is closer to our own 
generation, and voices more definitely the social 
significance of the modern drama. 


WHEN Leo Tolstoy died, the represen- 
tatives of the C hurch proclaimed him 
as their own. " He was with us," 
they said. It reminds one of the 
Russian fable about the fly and the ox. The fly 
was lazily resting on the horn of the ox while he 
plowed the field, but when the ox returned home 
exhausted with toil, the fly bragged, " JVe have 
been plowing." The spokesmen of the Church 
are, in relation to Tolstoy, in the same position. 
It is true that Tolstoy based his conception of hu- 
man relationships on a new interpretation of the 
Gospels. But he was as far removed from pres- 
ent-day Christianity as Jesus was alien to the insti- 
tutional religion of his time. 

Tobtoy was the last true Christian, and as such 
he undermined the stronghold of the Church with 
all its pernicious power of darkness, with all its 
injustice and cruelty. 

For this he was persecuted by the Holy Synod 
and excommunicated from the Church; for this 
he was feared by the Tsar and his henchmen; for 
this his works have been condemned and pro- 




The only reason Tolstoy himself escaped the 
fate of other great Russians was that he was 
mightier than the Churdi, mightier than the ducal 
clique, mightier even than the Tsar. He was the 
powerful conscience of Russia exposing her 
crimes and evils before the civilized world. 

How deeply Tolstoy felt the grave problems 
of his time, how closely related he was to the peo- 
ple, he demonstrated in various works, but in 
none so strikingly as in " The Power of Dark- 




" The Power of Darkness " is the tragedy of 
sordid misery and dense ignorance. It deals with 
a group of peasants steeped in poverty and utter 
darkness. This appalling condition, especially in 
relation to the women folk, is expressed by one 
of the characters in the play: 

Mitrich. There are millions of you women and girls, 
but you are all like the beasts of the forest. Just as one 
has been born, so she dies. She has neither seen or heard 
anything. A man will learn something; if nowhere else, 
at least in the inn, or by some chance, in prison, or in the 
army, as I have. But what about a woman ? She does 
not know a thing about God, — nay, she does not know 
one day from another. They creep about like blind pups, 
and stick their heads into the manure. 

The Power of Darkness 277 

Peter , a rich peasant, is in a dying condition. 
Yet he clings to his money and slave-drives his 
young wife, Anisya, his two daughters by a first 
marriage, and his peasant servant Nikita. He 
will not allow them any rest from their toil, for 
the greed of money is in his blood and the fear 
of death in his bones. Jnisya h^itcs her husband: 
he forces her to drudge, and he is old and ill. She 
loves Niki ta, The latter, young and irresponsi- 
ble, cannot resist women, who are his main weak- 
ness and final undoing. Before he came to old 
Peter's farm, he had wronged an orphan girl. 
When she becomes pregnant, she appeals to Ni- 
kita's father, Akim, a simple and honest peasant. 
He urges his son to marry the girl, because " it is 
a sin to wrong an orphan. Look out, Nikita! 
A tear of offense does not flow past, but upon a 
man's head. Look out, or the same will happen 
with you." 

Akim's kindness and simplicity are opposed by 
the viciousness and greed of his wife Matrena. 
Nikita remains on the farm, and Anisya^ urged 
and influenced by his mother, poisons old Peter 
and steals his money. 

When her husband dies, Anisya marries Nikita 
and turns the money over to him. Nikita be- 
comes the head of the house, and soon proves him- 
self a rake and a tyrant. Idleness and affluence 

278 Tolstoy 

undermine whatever good is latent in him. 
Money, the destroyer of souls, together with tk 
consciousness that he has been indirectly a party 
to Anisya^s crime, turn Nikita^s love for the 
woman into bitter hatred. He takes for his mis- 
tress Akulina, Peter^s oldest daughter, a girl of six- 
teen, deaf and silly, and forces Anisya to serve 
them. She had strength to resist her old husband, 
but her love for Nikita has made her weak. 
*' The moment I see him my heart softens. I have 
no courage against him." 

Old Akim comes to ask for a little money from 
his newly rich son. He quickly senses the swamp 
of corruption and vice into which Nikita has sunL 
He tries to save him, to bring him back to himself, 
to arouse the better side of his nature. But he 

The ways of life are too evil for Akim. He 
leaves, refusing even the money he needs so badly 
to purchase a horse. 

Akim, One sin holds on to another and pulls you 
along. Nikita, you are stuck in sins. You are stuck, I 
see, in sins. You are stuck fast, so to speak. I have 
heard that nowadays they pull fathers' beards, so to speak, 
— but this leads only to ruin, to ruin, so to speak. . . . 
There is your money. I will go and beg, so to speak, 
but I will not, so to speak, take the money. . . . Let me 
go! I will not stay! I would rather sleep near the 
fence than in your nastiness. 

The Power of Darkness 279 

The type of Akim is most vividly characterized 
by Tolstoy in the talk between the old peasant and 
the new help on the farm. 

Mitrich. Let us suppose, for example, you have 
money, and I, for example, have my land lying fallow; 
It is spring, and I have no seed; or I have to pay the 
taxes. So I come to you, and say : " Akim, give me ten 
roubles! I will have the harvest in by St. Mary's Inter- 
cession and then I will give it back to you, with a tithe 
for the accommodation." You, for example, sec that I 
can be flayed, having a horse or a cow, so you say: 
" Give me two or three roubles for the accommodation." 
The noose is around my neck, and I cannot get along 
without It. " Very well," says I, " I will take the ten 
roubles." In the fall I sell some things, and I bring you 
the money, and you skin me in addition for three rou-. 

Akim. But this is, so to speak, a wrong done to a peas- 
ant. If one forgets God, so to speak, it is not good. 

Mitrich. Wait a minute! So remember what you 
have done: you have fleeced me, so to speak, and Anisya, 
for example, has some money which is lying idle. She 
has no place to put it in and, being a woman, does not 
know what to do with it. So she comes to you : " Can't 
I," says she, " make some use of my money? " " Yes, you 
can," you say. And so you wait. Next summer I come 
to you once more. " Give me another ten roubles," says 
I, " and I will pay you for the accommodation." So you 
watch me to see whether my hide has not been turned 
yet, whether I can be flayed again, and if I can, you give 



me Anisya's money. But if I have not a blessed thin&< 
and nothing to eat, you make your calculations, seeujl 
that I cannot be skinned, and you say: " Grod be wi4 
you, my brother ! " and you look out for another man to 
whom to give Anisya's money, and whora you can Say. 
Now this is called a bank. So it keeps going arouni 
It is a very clever thing, my friend. 

Akim. What is this? This is a nastiness, so to sped 
If a peasant, so to speak, were to do ft, the peasants would 
regard it as a sin, so to speak. This is not according to 
the Law, not according to the Law, so to speak. It is 
bad. How can the learned men, so to speak — ... As 
I look at it, so to speak, there is trouble without money, 
so to speak, and with money the trouble is double, so to 
speak. God has commanded to work. But you put the 
money in the bank, so to speak, and lie down to sleep, 
and the money will feed you, so to speak, while you arc 
lying. This is bad, — not according to the Law, so to 

Mitrich. Not according to the Law? The Law docs 
not trouble people nowadays, my friend. All they think 
about IS how to clean out a fellow. That's what ! 

As long as Akulina's condition is not noticeable, 
the relation of Ntkita with his dead master's 
daughter remains hidden from the neighbors. 
But the time comes when she is to give birth to a 
child. It is then that Anisya becomes mistress of 
the situation again. Her hatred for Akultna, her 
outraged love for Ntkita and the evil spirit of Nt- 
kita* s mother all combine to turn her into a fiend. 

The Power of Darkness 281 

Akulina is driven to the barn, where her terrible! 
labor pains are stifled by the dread of her step- 
mother. When the innocent victim 'is born, Nu 
kita's vicious mother and Anisya persuade him| 
that the child is dead and force him to bury it inl 
the cellar. | 

While Nikita is digging the grave, he discovers ( 
the deception. The child is alive! The terrible 
shock unnerves the man, and in temporary madness 
he presses a board over the little body'till its bones 
crunch. Superstition, horror and the perfidy of 
the women drive Nikita to drink in an attempt to 
drown the baby's cries constantly ringing in his 
ears. ' 

The last act deals with Akulinc^s wedding to the 
son of a neighbor. She is forced into the mar- 
riage because of her misfortune. The peasants 
all gather for the occasion, but Nikita is missing: 
he roams the place haunted by the horrible phan- 
tom of his murdered child. He attempts ta hang 
himself but fails, and finally decides to go before 
the entire assembly to confess his crimes. 

Nikita. Father, listen to me! First of all, Marina, 
look at me! I am guilty toward you: I had promised 
to marry you, and I seduced you. I deceived you and 
abandoned you; forgive me for Christ's sake! 

Matrena. Oh, oh, he is bewitched. What is the mat- 
ter with him? He has the evil eye upon him. Get up 
and stop talking nonsense I 



Nikita. I killed your father, and I, dog, have 
his daughter. I had the power over her, and I 
also her baby. . . • Father dear! Forgive me, sli 
man! You told me, when I first started on this lire il 
debauch : " When the claw i s ca ught, the whole birdjl 
lost." But, I, dog, did not pay any attention to you, all 
so everything turned out as you said. Forgive me, h 
Christ's sake. 

The '* Power of Darkness " is a terrible pictutl 
of poverty, ignorance and superstition. To writtj 
such a work it is not sufficient to be a creative ai^l 
ist: it requires a deeply sympathetic human soi 
Tolstoy possessed both. He understood that tht 
tragedy of the peasants' life Is due not to anyifr 
herent viciousness but to the power of darkng 
which permeates their existence from the cradle 
to the grave. Something heavy is oppressing 
them — in the words of Antsy a — weighing them 
down, something that saps all humanity out o( 
them and drives them into the depths. 

" The Power of Darkness " is a social picture 
at once appalling and gripping. 



HEN Anton Tchekhof first came to 
the fore, no less an authority than 
Tols toy said: "Russia has given 
birth to another Turgenev." The 
^estimate was not overdrawn. Tchekhof was in- 
deed a modern Turgenev. Perhaps not as uni- 
versal, because Turgenev, having lived in western 
^Europe, in close contact with conditions outside of 
Russia, dealt with more variegated aspects of life. 
; But as a creative artist Tchekhof is fitted to take 
his place with Turgenev. 

Tchekhof is preeminently the master of short 
stories. Within the limits of a few pages he paints 
the drama of human life with its manifold tragic 
and comic colors, in its most intimate reflex upon 
the characters who pass through the panorama. 
He has been called a pessimist. As if one could 
miss the sun without feeling the torture of utter 
darkness I 

Tchekhof wrote during the gloomiest period of 
Russian life, at a time when the reaction had 
drowned the revolution in the blood of the young 

generation, — when the Tsar had choked the very 



Anton Tchekhof 

breath out of young Russia. The intellec 
were deprived of every outlet: all the social 
nels were closed to them, and they found the 
selves without hope or faith, not having yet \t\ 
to make common cause with the people. 

Tchekhof could not escape the atmospM 
which darkened the horizon of almost the wholeofl 
Russia. It was because he so intensely feltb] 
oppressive weight that he longed for air, for lii 
for new and vital ideas. To awaken the samtj 
yearning and faith in others, he had to picture lifej 
as it was, in all its wretchedness and horror. 

This he did in " The Seagull," while in "Tie 
Cherry Orchard " he holds out the hope of a new 
and brighter day. 


In " The Seagull " the young artist, Con5t» 
tine Treble f, seeks new forms, new modes of ex- 
pression. He is tired of the old academic ways, 
the beaten track; he is disgusted with the endless 
imitative methods, no one apparently capable of an 
original thought. 

Constantine has written a play; the principal part 
is to be acted by Nina, a beautiful girl with whom 
Constantine is in love. He arranges the first per- 
formance to take place on the occasion of his 
mother's vacation in the country. 

The Seagull 285 

She herself — known as Mme. Arcadtna — is a 
famous actress of the old school. She knows how 
to show off her charms to advantage, to parade her 
beautiful gowns, to faint and die gracefully before 
the footlights ; but she does not know how to live 
her part on the stage. Mme. Arcadina is the type 
of artist who lacks all conception of the relation 
between art and life. Barren of vision and empty 
of heart, her only criterion is public approval and 
material success. Needless to say, she cannot un- 
derstand her son. She considers him decadent, 
a foolish rebel who wants to undermine the settled 
canons of dramatic art. Constantine sums up his 
mother's personality in the following manner : 

Treplef. She is a psychological curiosity, is my mother. 
A clever and gifted woman, who can cry over a novel, 
will reel you off all Nekrassov's poems by heart, and is the 
perfection of a sick nurse ; but venture to praise Eleonora 
Duse before her! Oho! ho! You must praise nobody 
but her, write about her, shout about her, and go into 
ecstasies over her wonderful performance in La Dame aux 
Camelias, or The Fumes of Life; but as she cannot have 
these intoxicating pleasures down here in the country, 
she's bored and gets spiteful. . . . She loves the stage; 
she thinks that she is advancing the cause of humanity 
and her sacred art; but I regard the stage of to-day as 
mere routine and prejudice. When the curtain goes up 
and the gifted beings, the high priests of the sacred art, 
appear by electric light, in a room with three sides to it, 
representing how people eat, drink, love, walk and wear 


Anton Tchekhof 

their jackets; when they strive to squeeze out a 
from the flat, vulgar pictures and the flat, vulgar 
a little tiny moral, easy to comprehend and handy i 
home consumption, when in a thousand variations 
offer me always the same thing over and over and 
again — then I take to my heels and run, as Mauf 
ran from the Eiffel Tower, which crushed his brain bf 1 
overwhelming vulgarity. . . . We must have new 
mulae. That's what we want. And if there are 
then it's better to have nothing at all. 






With Mme. Arcadina is her lover, Trigorkj 
successful writer. When he began his lite 
career, he possessed originality and strength. 
gradually writing became a habit: the publish 
constantly demand new books, and he suppW 

Oh, the slavery of being an " arrived" artt^ 
forging new chains for oneself with every "bei 
seller '' ! Such is the position of Trigorin\ ^ 
hates his work as the worst drudgery. Exhaustd 
of ideas, all life and human relations serve to 
only as material for copy. 

Nina, innocent of the ways of the world anJ 
saturated with the false romanticism of Trigoni^ 
works, does not see the man but the celebrated art* 
ist. She is carried away by his fame and stirred 
by his presence; ^n infatuation with him quickh 
replaces her affection for Constantine. To hei 







The Seagull 287 

Trigorin embodies her dream of a brilliant and in- 
teresting life. 

Niniu How I envy you, if you but knew it! How 
different are the lots of different people! Some can 
hardly drag on their tedious, insignificant existence; they 
are all alike, all miserable; others, like you, for instance 
— you are one in a million — are blessed with a brilliant, 
interesting life, all full of meaning. . . . You are happy. 
. . . What a delightful life yours is! 

Trigorin, What is there so fine about it? Day and 
night I am obsessed by the same persistent thought; I 
must write, I must write, I must write. . . . No sooner 
have I finished one story than I am somehow compelled to 
write another, then a third, and after the third a fourth. 
. . . I have no rest for myself; I feel that I am devour- 
ing my own life. . . • I've never satisfied myself, . . . 
I have the feeling for nature; it wakes a passion in me, 
an irresistible desire to write. But I am something more 
than a landscape painter ; I'm a citizen as well ; I love my 
country, I love the people; I feel that if I am a writer 
I am bound to speak of the people, of its suffering, of its 
future, to speak of science, of the rights of man, etc, etc ; 
and I speak about it all, volubly, and am attacked angrily 
in return by everyone ; I dart from side to side like a fox 
run down by hounds; I see that life and science fly farther 
and farther ahead of me, and I fall farther and farther 
behind, like the countryman running after the train; and 
in the end I feel that the only thing I can write of is the 
landscape, and in everything else I am untrue to life, 
false to the very marrow of my bones. 

288 Anton Tchekhof 

Constantine realizes that Nina is slipping a^ 
from him. The situation is aggravated by tkl 
constant friction with his mother and his despal 
at the lack of encouragement for his art. In ail 
of despondency he attempts suicide, but withoa 
success. His mother, although nursing him bad] 
to health, is infuriated at her son's " foolishness," 
his inability to adapt himself to conditions, hisiu 
practical ideas. She decides to leave, accompanid; 
by Trigorin. On the day of their departure iViiu! 
and Trigorin nleet once more. The girl tells him 
of her ambition to become an actress, and, encour- 
aged by him, follows him to the city. 

Two years later Mme. Arcadina, still full of her 
idle triumphs, returns to her estate. Trigorin'^ 
again with her still haunted by the need of copy. 

Constantine has in the interim matured consider- 
ably. Although he has made himself heard as a 
writer, he nevertheless feels that life to-day has no 
place for such as he : that sincerity in art is not 
wanted. His mother is with him, but she only 
serves to emphasize the flatness of his surround- 
ings. He loves her, but her ways jar him and 
drive him into seclusion. 

Ninay too, has returned to her native place, 
broken in body and spirit. Partly because of the 
memory of her past affection for Constmntine, and 
mainly because she learns of Trigorin* s presence, 
she is drawn to the place where two years before 

The Seagull 289 

she had dreamed of the beauty of an artistic career. 
The cruel struggle for recognition, the bitter dis- 
appointment in her relation with Trigorin, the care 
of a child and poor health have combined to change 
the romantic child into a sad woman. 

Constantine still loves her. He pleads with her 
to go away with him, to begin a new life. But it 
is too late. The lure of the footlights is beckon- 
ing to Nina; she returns to the stage. Constan- 
tine, unable to stand the loneliness of his life and 
the mercenary demands upon his art, kills himself. 

To the Anglo-Saxon mind such an ending is pes- 
simism, — defeat. Often, however, apparent de- 
feat is in reality die truest success. For is not suc- 
cess, as commonly understood, but too frequently 
bought at the expense of character and idealism ? 

** The Seagull " is not defeat. As long as there 
is still such material in society as the Constantines 
— men and women who would rather die than 
compromise with the sordidness of life — there is 
hope for humanity. If the Constantines perish, it 
is the social fault, — our indifference to, and lack 
of appreciation of, the real values that alone ad- 
vance the fuller and more complete life of the race. 


Anton Tchekhof 


"The Cherry Orchard " is TchekhoPs pi^| 
phetic song. In tliis play he depicts three sta 
of social development and their reflex in literatuit] 

Mme. Raneysky, the owner of the cherry or- 
chard, an estate celebrated far and wide forittl 
beauty and historic traditions, is deeply attachedto' 
the family place. She loves it for its romanticism:' 
nightingales sing in the orchard, accompanying tie 1 
wooing of lovers. She is devoted to it because oi 
the memory of her ancestors and because of the 
many tender ties which bind her to the orchari 
The same feeling and reverence is entertained by 
her brother Leonid Gayef . They are expressed ifl 
the Ode to an Old Family Cupboard: 

Gayef. Beloved and venerable cupboard ; honor ani 
glory to your existence, which for more than a hundred 
years has been directed to the noble ideals of justice ani 
virtue. Your silent summons to profitable labor has never 
weakened in all these hundred years. You have uphelfi 
the courage of succeeding generations of human kind: 
you have upheld faith in a better future and cherished in 
us ideals of goodness and social consciousness. 

But the social consciousness of Gayef and of his 
sister is of a paternal nature: the attitude of the 
aristocracy toward its serfs. It is a paternalism 
that takes no account of the freedom and happiness 
of the people, — the iwnajatidsm^ ^l^Y^PS ^'l5^ 

The Cherry Orchard 291' 

Mme. Ranevsky is impoverished. The cherry 
orchard is heavily mortgaged and as romance and 
sentiment cannot liquidate debts, the beautiful es- 
tate falls into the cruel hands of commercialism. 

The merchant Yermolai Lopakhin buys the 
place. He is in ecstasy over his newly acquired 
possession. He the owner — he who had risen 
from the serfs of the former master of the or- 
chard I 

Lopakhin. Just think of it! The cherry orchard is 
mine! Mine! Tell me that Vm drunk; tell me that Fm 
off my head; tell me that it*s all a dream! ... If only 
my father and my grandfather could rise from their 
graves and see the whole affair, how their Yermolai, their 
flogged and ignorant Yermolai, who used to run about 
barefooted in the winter, how this same Yermolai had 
bought a property that hasn't its equal for beauty any- 
where in the whole world! I have bought the property 
where my father and grandfather were slaves, where they 
weren't even allowed into the kitchen. 

A new epoch begins in the cherry orchard. On 
the ruins of romanticism and aristocratic case there 
rises commercialism, its iron hand yoking nature, 
devastating her beauty, and robbing her of all 

With the greed of rich returns, Lopakhin cries, 
** Lay the ax to the cherry orchard, come and see 
the trees fall down! We'll fill the place with 

292 Anton Tchekhof 

Materialism reigns supreme ; it lords the oi* 
chard with mighty hand, and in the frenzy of ibl 
triumph believes itself in control of the bodies anJI 
souls of men. But in the madness of conquest r] 
has discounted a stubborn obstacle — the spirkoil 
idealism. It is symbolized in Peter Trophiml 
** the perpetual student," and Anya, the youBj 
daughter of Mme. Ranevsky. The " wonderful 
achievements " of the materialistic age do not en- 
thuse them; they have emancipated themselves 
from the Lopakhin idol as well as from their aristo- 
cratic traditions. 

Anya. Why is it that I no longer love the djcnr 
orchard as I did? I used to love it so tenderly; I thougb 
there was no better place on earth than our garden. 

Trophimof. All Russia is our garden. The earth is 
great and beautihil ; it is full of wonderful places. Think, 
Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all 
your ancestors were serf-owners, owners of living souls. 
Do not human spirits look out at you from every tree In 
the orchard, from every leaf and every stem ? Do you not 
hear human voices? . . . Oh! it is terrible. Your or- 
chard frightens me. When I walk through it in the 
evening or at night, the rugged bark on the trees glows 
with a dim light, and the cherry trees seem to see all that 
happened a hundred and two hundred years ago in pain- 
ful and oppressive dreams. Well, well, we have fallen 
at least two hundred years beyond the times. We ha\t 
achieved nothing at all as yet ; we have not made up our 
minds how we stand with the past ; we only philosophize, 

The Cherry Orchard 293f 

complain of boredom, or drink vodka. It is so plain that, 
before we can live in the present, we must first redeem the 
past, and have done with it. 

Any a. The house we live in has long since ceased to 
be our house ; I shall go away. 

Trophimof. If you have the household keys, throw 
them in the well and go away. Be free, be free as the 
wind. ... I am hungry as the winter ; I am sick, anxious, 
poor as a beggar. Fate has tossed me hither and thither; 
I have been everywhere, everywhere. But everywhere I 
have been, every minute, day and night, my soul has been 
full of mysterious anticipations. I feel the approach of 
happiness, Anya; I see it coming ... it is coming to- 
wards us, nearer and nearer; I can hear the sound of its 
footsteps. . . • And if we do not see it, if we do not 
know it, what does it matter? Others will see it. 

The new generation, on the threshold of the 
new epoch, hears the approaching footsteps of the 
Future. And even if the Any as and Trophimofs 
of to-day will not see it, others wilU 

It was not given to Anton Tchekhof to see it 
with his bodily eyes. But his prophetic vision be- 
held the coming of the New Day, and with power- 
ful pen he proclaimed it, that others might see it. 
Far from being a pessimist, as charged by unintelli- 
gent critics, his faith was strong in the possibilities 
of liberty. 

This is the inspiring message of " The Cherry 



WE In America are conversant 
tramp literature. A number 
writers of considerable note have 
scribed what is commonly called 
underworld, among them Josiah Flynt and , 
London, who have ably interpreted the life 
psychology of the outcast. But with all due 
spect for their ability, It must be said that, a 
all, they wrote only as onlookers, as observ 
They were not tramps themselves. In the real s( 
of the word. In " The Childr en of the Aby 
Jack London relates that when he stood in 
breadline, he had money, a room In a good he 
and a change of linen at hand. He was theref 
not an Integral part of the underworld, of 
homeless and hopeless. 

Never before has anyone given such a tr 
realistic picture of the social depths as Ma> 
Gorki, himself a denizen of the underworld fr« 
his early childhood. At the age of eight he i 

away from his poverty-stricken, dismal home, a 


A Nighfs Lodging 295 

for many years thereafter he lived the life of the 
bosyaki. He tramped through the length and 
breadth of Russia ; he lived with the peasant, the 
factory worker and the outcast. He knew them 
intimately; he understood their psychology, for he 
was not only with them, but of them. Therefore 
Gorki has been able to present such a vivid picture 
of the underworld. 

** A Night^s Lodging ^' portrays a lodging 
house, hideous and foul, where gather the social 
derelicts, — the thief, the gambler, the ex-artist, the 
ex-aristocrat, the prostitute. All of them had at 
one time an ambition, a goal, but because of their 
lack of will and the injustice and cruelty of the 
world, they were forced into the depths and cast 
back whenever they attempted to rise. They are 
the superfluous ones, dehumanized and brutalized. 

In this poisonous air, where everything withers 
and dies, we nevertheless find character. No- 

' » 111 ■ * 

tashoj a young girl, still retains her wholesome in- 
stincts. She had never known love or sympathy, 
had gone hungry all her days, and had tasted noth- 
ing but abuse from her brutal sister, on whom she 
was dependent. Vaska Pepel^ the young thief, a 
lodger in the house, strikes a responsive chord in 
her the moment he makes her feel that he cares 
for her and that she mig^t be of spiritual and 
moral help to him. Vaska, like Natasha, is a 
product of his social environment. 


Maxim Gorki 

Vaska. From childhood, I have been — only a 
. . . Always I was called Vaska the pickpocket, Vasbl 
the son of a thief! See, it was of no consequence to nt,] 
as long as they would have it so ... so they would 
it. ... I was a thief, perhaps, only out of spite . . .ix-j 
cause nobody came along to call me anything— thid 
. . . You call me something else, Natasha. . . . It fi 
no easy life that I lead — friendless ; pursued like a wolt 
... I sink like a man in a swamp . . . whatever 1 toiri 
is slimy and rotten . . . nothing is firm . . . but you aic 
like a young fir-tree; you are prickly, but you givesup^ 

There is another humane figure illuminating the 
dark picture in "A Night's Lodging", — Lwifl. 
He is the type of an old pilgrim, a man whom the 
experiences of life have taught wisdom. He has 
tramped through Russia and Siberia, and con- 
sorted with all sorts of people; but disappointment 
and grief have not robbed him of his faith in 
beauty, In idealism. He believes that every man. 
however low, degraded, or demoralized can yet be 
reached, if we but know how to touch his soul. 
Luka inspires courage and hope in everyone he 
meets, urging each to begin life anew. To the 
former actor, now steeped in drink, he says : 

Luka. The drunkard, I have heard, can now be cured, 
without charge. They realize now, you see, that the 
drunkard is also a man. You must begin to make ready. 
Begin a new life! 

A Nighfs Lodging 297 

Luka tries also to imbue Natasha and Vaska 
with new faith. They marvel at his goodness. 
In simplicity of heart Luka gives his philosophy of 

Luka, I am good, you say. But you see, there must 
be some one to be good. . . . We must have pity on 
mankind. . . . Have pity while there is still time, be- 
lieve me, it IS very good. I was once, for example, em- 
ployed as a watchman, at a country place which belonged 
to an engineer, not far from the city of Tomsk, in Siberia. 
The house stood in the middle of the forest, an out-of-the- 
way location . . . and it was winter and I was all alone 
in the country house. It was beautiful there . . . mag- 
nificent! And once ... I heard them scrambling 
up! . . . 

Natasha. Thieves! 

Luka. Yes. They crept higher and I took my rifle 
and went outside. I looked up: two men ... as they 
were opening a window and so busy that they did not see 
anything of me at all. I cried to them : " Heh there 
... get out of that "... and would you think it, 
they fell on me with a hand ax. ... I warned them — 
" Halt," I cried, " or else I fire "... then I aimed 
first at one and then at the other. They fell on their 
knees, saying, " Pardon us." I was pretty hot ... on 
account of the hand ax, you remember. " You devils," I 
cried, " I told you to clear out and you didn't . . . and 
now," I said, " one of you go into the brush and get a 
switch." It was done. " And now," I commanded, " one 
of you stretch out on the ground, and the other thrash 

298 Maxim Gorki 

him "... and so they whipped each other at my oo» 
mand. And when they had each had a sound bo&A ^ 
they said to me: "Grandfather," said they, "iorllB ^ 
sake of Christ give us a piece of bread. We haven't^ 1 
bite in our bodies." They were the thieves, who 
fallen upon me with the hand ax. Yes . . . they wciti 
pair of splendid fellows. ... I said to them, " If youUj 
asked for bread." Then they answrered : " We had 
ten past that. . . . We had asked and asked and 
would give us anything . . . endurance was worn ouV 
. . . and so they remained with me the whole wint&j 
One of them, Stephen by name, liked to take the rifle anil 
go into the woods . . . and the other, Jakoff, was cofr 
stantly ill, always coughing . . . the three of us watdri 
the place, and when spring came, they said, " Farewdl, 
grandfather," and went away — to Russia. . . . 
Natasha, Were they convicts, escaping ? 
Luka, They were . . . fugitives . . . they had Icii 
their colony ... a pair of splendid fellows. ... It I 
had not had pity on them — who knows what would ha\t 
happened. They might have killed me. . . . Then they 
would be taken to court again, put in prison, sent back to 
Siberia. . . . Why all that? You learn nothing good in 
prison, nor in Siberia . . . but a man, what can he not 
learn. Man may teach his fellowman something good 
... very simply. 

Impressed and strengthened by Luka's wonder- 
ful faith and vision, the unfortunates make an at- 
tempt to rise from the social swamp. But he has 
come too late into their lives. They have been 

A Night's Lodging 299 

robbed of energy and will ; and conditions always 
conspire to thrust them back into the depths. 
When Natasha and Vaska are about to start out on 
the road to a new life, fate overtakes them. The 
girl, during a scene with her heartless sister, is ter- 
ribly scalded by the latter, and Vaska, rushing to 
the defense of his sweetheart, encounters her 
brutal brother-in-law, whom he accidentally kills. 
Thus these " superfluous ones " go down in the 
struggle. Not because of their vicious or degrad- 
ing tendencies ; on the contrary, it is their better in- 
stincts that cause them to be swept back into the 
abyss. But though they perish, the inspiration of 
Luka is not entirely lost. It is epitomized in the 
words of one of the victims. 

Sahtin. The old man — he lived from within. . . . 
He saw everything with his own eyes. ... I asked him 
once: "Grandfather, why do men really live?" . . . 
" Man lives ever to give birth to strengffi.** There live, 
for example, the carpenters, noisy, miserable people . . . 
and suddenly in their midst is a carpenter born . . . such 
a carpenter as the world has never seen: he is above all, 
no other carpenter can be compared to him. He gives a 
new face to the whole trade ... his own face, so to 
speak . . . and with that simple impulse it has advanced 
twenty years . . . and so the others live ... the lock- 
smiths and the shoemakers, and all the rest of the work- 
ing people . . . and the same is true of other classes — 
all to give birth to strength. Everyone thinks that he for 
himself takes up room in the world, but it turns out that 

300 Maxim Gorki 

he is here for another's benefit — for someone bettc 
a hundred years ... or perhaps longer. . . ii m 
so long . . . for the sake of genius. . . . All, my 
dren, all, live only to give birth to strength. Fo: 
reason we must respect everybody. We cannot 
who he is, for what purpose born, or what he mi 
fulfill . . . perhaps he has been bom for our goo< 
tune ... or great benefit." 

No stronger indictment than " A Night's L 
ing " is to be found in contemporary literatui 
our perverse civilization that condemns thous 
— often the very best men and women — to 
fate of the Vaskas and Anyas, doomed as si 
fluous and unnecessary in society. And yet 
are necessary, aye, they are vital, could we but 
beneath the veil of cold indifference and stupi 
to discover the deep humanity, the latent possi 
ties in these lowliest of the low. If within our 
cial conditions they are useless material, oi 
vicious and detrimental to the general good, i 
because they have been denied opportunity : 
forced into conditions that kill their faith in th« 
selves and all that is best in their natures. 

The so-called depravity and crimes of th 
derelicts are fundamentally the depravity and cr 
inal anti-social attitude of Society itself that fi 
creates the underworld and, having created 
wastes much energy and effort in suppressing 2 
destroying the menacing phantom of its own m 

A Night's Lodging 301 

ing, — forgetful of the elemental brotherhood of 
man, blind to the value of the individual, and igno- 
rant of the beautiful possibilities inherent in even 
the most despised children of the depths. 



LEONID ANDREYEV is the younj 
and at the present time the most poi« 
ful dramatist of Russia. Like Td 
hof and Gorki, he is very versatile: 
sketches and stories possess as fine a liter 
quality and stirring social appeal as his plays. 
No one who has read his terrible picture of \ 
*' The Red La ugh," or his unsurpassed arra 
ment of capital punishment, ** The Seven V 
Were Hang ed," can erase from memory the 
feet of Leonid Andreyev's forceful pen. 

The drama '' King-Hunger " deals with 
most powerful king on earth, — King-Hunger. 
the presence of Time and Death he pleads \ 
Time to ring the alarm, to call the people to re 
lion, because the earth is replete with suffer! 
cities, shops, mines, factories and fields reso 
with the moans and groans of the people. T 
agony is unbearable. 

King-Hunger. Strike the bell, old man; rend to 
ears its copper mouth. Let no one slumber ! 


King-Hunger 303 

But Time has no faith in King-Hunger. He 
knows that Hunger had deceived the people on 
many occasions : " You will deceive again, King- 
Hungen You have many a time deluded your 
children and me." Yet Time is weary with wait- 
ing. He consents to strike the bell. 

King-Hunger calls upon the workingmen to re- 
bel. The scene is in a machine shop ; the place is 
filled with deafening noises as of men's groans. 
Every machine, every tool, every screw, holds its 
human forms fettered to it and all keep pace with 
the maddening speed of their tormentors. And 
through the thunder and clatter of iron there rises 
the terrible plaint of the toilers. 

We are starving. 

We are crushed by machines. 

Their weight smothers us. 

The iron crushes. 

The steel oppresses. 

Oh, what a furious weight! As a mountain 

upon me! 

The whole earth is upon me. 

The iron hammer flattens me. It crushes the 

blood out of my veins, it fractures my bones, it makes me 
flat as sheet iron. 

Through the rollers my body is pressed and 

drawn thin as wire. Where is my body? Where is my 
blood? Where is my soul? 

The wheel is twirling me. 

Day and night screaks the saw cutting stceL 


Leonid Andreyev 

Day and nig^t in my ears the screeching of the sswctl 
ting steeL All the dreams that I see, all the sounds all 
songs that I hear, is the screeching of the saw aitti^| 
steel. What is the earth? It is the screeching of il 
saw. What is the sky? It is the screeching of theai] 
cutting steel. Day and night. 

Day and night. 

We are crushed by the machines. 

We ourselves are parts of the machines. 

Brothers! We forge our own chains! 

The crushed call upon King-Hunger to hdp 
them, to save them from the horror of their lift 
Is he not the most powerful king on earth? 

King-Hunger comes and exhorts them to rebd 
AH follow his call except three . One of these is 
huge of body, of Herculean built, large of musdc 
but with small, flat head upon his massive 
shoulders. The_ second workingman is young. 
but with the mark of death already upon his brow. 
He is constantly coughing and the hectic flush on 
his cheeks betrays the wasting disease of his dass. 
The third workingnian is a worn-out old man. 
Everything about him, even his voice, is deathlike, 
colorless, as If in his person a thousand lives had 
been robbed of their bloom. 

First Workingman, I am as old as the earth. I have 
performed all the twelve labors, cleansed stables, cut ofi 
the hydra's heads, dug and vexed the earth, built dries, 
and have so altered its face, that the Creator himself 

King-Hunger 305 

would not readily recognize her. But I can't say why I 
did all this. Whose will did I shape? To what end 
did I aspire? My head is dull. I am dead tired. My 
strength oppresses me. Explain it to me, O King! Or 
ril clutch this hammer and crack the earth as a hollow 

King-Hunger, Patience, my son! Save your powers 
for the last great revolt. Then you'll know all. 

First Workingman. I shall wait. 

Second Workingman. He cannot comprehend it, O 
King. He thinks that we must crack the earth. It is 
a gross falsehood, O King! The earth is fair as the 
garden of God. We must guard and caress her as a lit- 
tle girl. Many that stand there in the darkness say, 
there is no sky, no sun, as if eternal night is upon the 
earth. Just think: eternal night! 

King-Hunger, Why, coughing blood, do you smile 
and gaze to heaven? 

Second Workingman. Because flowers will blossom on 
my blood, and I see them now. On the breast of a beau- 
tiful rich lady I saw a red rose — she didn't know it was 
my blood. 

King-Hunger, You are a poet, my son. I suppose 
you write verses, as they do. 

Second Workingman, King, O King, sneer not at me. 
In darkness I learned to worship fire. Dying I under- 
stood that life is enchanting. Oh, how enchanting! 
King, it shall become a great garden, and there shall walk 
in peace, unmolested, men and animals. Dare not ruffle 
the animals! Wrong not any man! Let them play, 
embrace, caress one another — let them! But where is 

3o6 Leonid Andreyev 

the path? Where is the path? Explain, King-Hui 

King-Hunger. Revolt. 

Second fVorkingman, Through violence to freed 
Through blood to love and kisses? 

King-Hunger. There is no other way. 

Third Workingman, You lie, King-Hunger. 1 
you have killed my father and grandfather and g] 
grandfather, and would'st thou kill us? Where do 
lead us, unarmed? Don't you see how ignorant we 
how blind and impotent. You are a traitor. Only i 
you are a king, but there you lackey upon their tal 
Only here you wear a crown, but there you walk al 
with a napkin. 

King-Hunger will not listen to their prot 
He gives them the alternative of rebellion or sta 
ation for themselves and their children. Tl 
decide to rebel, for King-Hunger is the m 
powerful king on earth. 

The subjects of King-Hunger, the people of l 
underworld, gather to devise ways and mej 
of rebellion. A gruesome assembly this, held 
the cellar. Above is th e palace ringing with mu 
and laughter, the fine ladies in gorgeous splend< 
bedecked with flowers and costly jewels, the tabl 
laden with rich food and delicious wines. Evei 
thing is most exquisite there, joyous and happ 
And underneaths in the cellar, the underworld 
gathered, all the dregs of society: the robber ai 
the murderer, the thief and the prostitute, tl 

King-Hunger 307 

gambler and the drunkard. They have come to 
consult with each other how poverty is to rebel, 
how to throw off the yoke, and what to do with the 

Various suggestions are made. One advises 
poisoning the supply of water. But this is con- 
demned on the ground that the people also have to 
drink from the same source. 

Another suggests that all books should be burned 
for they teach the rich how to oppress. But the 
motion fails. What is the use of burning the 
books? The wealthy have money; they will buy 
writers, poets and scientists to make new books. 

A third proposes that the children of the rich 
be killed. From the darkest, most dismal corner 
of the cellar comes the protest of an old woman : 
" Oh, not the children. Don't touch the children. 
I have buried many of them myself. I know the 
pain of the mother. Besides, the children are not 
to blame for the crimes of their parents. Don't 
touch the children I The child is pure and sacred. 
Don't hurt the child I " 

A little girl rises, a chil d of twelve with the face 
of the aged. She announces that for the last four 
years she has given her body for money. She had 
been sold by her mother because they needed bread 
for the smaller children. During the four years 
of her terrible life, she has consorted with all kinds 
of men, influential men, rich men, pious men. 

3o8 Leonid Andreyev 

They infected her. Therefore she proposes tte 
the rich should be infected. 

The underworld plans and plots, and the grot 
some meeting is closed with a frenzied dance Ix - 
tween King-Hunger and Death, to the music of tkt 
dance above. 

King-Hunger is at t he trial of the Starvini/. Ht 
is the most powerful king on earth : he is at home 
everywhere, but nowhere more so than at the trial 
of the Starving. On high chairs sit the judges, ib 
all their bloated importance. The courtroom ii 
filled with curiosity seekers, idle ladies dressed ai 
if for a ball; college professors and students look 
ing for object lessons in criminal depravity; rid 
young girls are there, to satisfy a perverted craviii 
for excitement. 

The first starveling is brought in muzzled. 

King-Hunger. What is your oflEense, starveling? 

Old Man. I stole a fiye-jhgund_loaf, but it w 
wrested from me. I had only time to bite a small pic 
of It. Forgive me, I will never again — 

He is condemned in the name of the Law ar 
King-Hunger^ the most powerful king on earth. 

Another starveling is brought before the bare 
justice. It is a woman, young and beautiful, b 
pale and sad. She is charged with killing h( 


King-Hunger 309 

Young Womsm. One night my baby and I crossed 
' ' the long bridge over the river. And since I had long be- 
fore decided, so then approaching the middle, where the 
>^ river is deep and swift, I said : " Look, baby dear, how 
Z the water is a-roaring below." She said, " I can't reach, 
u; mamma, the railing is so high." I said, " Come, let me 
lift you, baby dear." And when she was gazing down 
into the black deep, I threw her over. That's all. 

; The Lam and King-Hunger condemn the woman 
to " blackest hell," there to be " tormented and 
burned in everlasting, slackless fires.'^ 

The heavy responsibility of meting out justice 
has fatigued the judges. The excitement of the 
trial has sharpened the appetite of the spectators. 
King-Hunger, at home with all people, proposes 
that the court adjourn for luncheon. 

The scene in the restaurant represents Hunger 
devouring like a wild beast the produce of toil, 
ravenous, famished, the victim of his own glutton- 
ous greed. 

The monster fed, his hunger and thirst ap- 
peased, he now returns to sit in self-satisfied judg- 
ment over the Starving. The judges are more 
bloated than before, the ladies more eager to bask 
in the misery of their fellows. The college pro- 
fessors and students, mentally heavy with food, are 
still anxious to add data to the study of human 

310 Leonid Andreyev 

A lean boy Is brought in, muzzled ; he is W 
lowed by a ragged woman. 

Woman. Have mercy! He stole an apple for r 
your Honor. I was sick, thought he. " Let me bri 
her a litde apple." Pity him ! Tell them that you wc 
any more. Well! Speak! 

Starveling. I won't any more. 

Woman. Fvc already punished him myself. Pity 
youth, cut not at the root his bright little days ! 

Voices. Indeed, pity one and then the next. Cut 
evil at its roots. 

One needs courage to be ruthless. 

It is better for them. 

Now he is only a boy, but when he grows u] 

King-Hunger. Starveling, you are condemned. 

A starveling, heavily muzzled, is dragged 
He is big and strong. He protests to the court 
has always been a faithful slave . But K 
Hunger announces that the man is dangerous, 
cause the faithful slave, being strong and hones 
" obnoxious to people of refined culture and 
brawny." The slave is faithful to-day, K 
Hunger warns the judges, but " who can trust 
to-morrow? Then in his strength and integ 
we will encounter a violent and dangerous enen 

In the name of justice the faithful slave is • 
demned. Finally the last starveling appears, 
looks half human, half beast. 

^- King-Hu nger 311 

1 King-Hunger, Who are you, starveling? Answer. 
Do you understand human speech? 
Starveling, We are the peasants. 
r King-Hunger, What's your offense? 
^ Starveling, We killed thedeyjl. 
^ King-Hunger. It was a man whom you burnt. 

Starveling. No, it was the devil. The priest told us 
so, and then we burnt him. 

The peasant is condemned. The session of the 
: Court closes with a brief speech by King-Hunger: 

King-Hunger. To-day you witnessed a highly in- 
structive spectacle. Divine, eternal justice has found in 
us, as judges and your retainers, its brilliant reflection on 
earth. Subject only to the laws of immortal equity, un- 
known to culpable compassion, indifferent to cursing and 
entreating prayers, obeying the voice of our conscience 
alone — we illumed this earth with the light of human 
wisdom and sublime, sacred truth. Not for a single 
moment forgetting that justice is the foundation of life, 
we have crucified the Christ in days gone by and since, 
to this very day, we cease not to grace Golgotha with new 
crosses. But, certainly, only ruffians, only ruffians are 
hanged. We showed no mercy to God himself, in the 
name of the laws of immortal justice — would we be 
now disconcerted by the howling of this impotent, starv- 
ing rabble, by their cursing and raging? Let them curse! 
Life herself blesses us, the great sacred truth will screen 
us with her veil, and the very decree of history will not 
be more just than our own. What have they gained by 
cursing? What? They are there, we're here. They 

312 Leonid Andreyev 

arc in dungeons, in galleys, on crosses, but we will g 
the theater. They perish, but we will devour thet 
devour — devour. 

The court has fulfilled its mission. K\ 
Hunger is the most powerful king on earth. 

The starvelings break out in revolt. The b 
peal with deafening thunder; all is confusion a 
chaos. The city is immersed in the blackness 
despair, and all is dark. Now and then gusts 
fire sweep the sky illuminating the scene of batt 
The air is filled with cries and groans ; there is t 
thud of falling bodies, and still the fight goes on. 

In a secluded part of the town stands the cast 
In its most magnificent bal lroom the rich and th 
lackeys — scientists, teachers and artists — a 
gathered. They tremble with fear at the ominc 
sounds outside. To silence the loud beat of th( 
terror they command the musicians to strike up t 
liveliest tunes, and the guests whirl about in a m: 

From time to time the door is forced open ai 
someone drops exhausted to the floor. An arti 
rushes in, crying out that the art gallery is 

" MurlUo is burning! Velasquez is burninj 
Giorgione is burning ! " 

He is not in the least concerned with livir 

King-Hunger 313 

values ; he dwells In the past and he wildly bewails 
the dead weight of the past. 

One after another men rush in to report the 
burning of libra ries, the breaking of statues, and 
the destruction of monuments. No one among the 
wealthy mob regrets the slaughter of human life. 

Panic-stricken the mighty fall from their 
thrones. The Starvin g, infuriated and vengeful, 
are marching on the m asters 1 They must not see 
the craven fear of the huddled figures in the man- 
sions, — the lights are turned off. But darkness 
is even more terrible to the frightened palace mob. 
In the madness of terror they begin to accuse and 
denounce each other. They feel as helpless as 
children before the approaching avalanche of 

At this critical moment a man appears. He is 
small, dirty, and unwashed; he smells of cheap 
whisky and bad tobacco ; he blows his nose with a 
red handkerchief and his manners are disgusting. 
He is the engineer . He looks calmly about him, 
presses a button, and the place is flooded widi 
light. He brings the comforting news that the 
revolt is crushed. 

Engineer. On Sunny Hill wc planted a line of im- 
mense machine guns of enormous power. ... A few 
projectiles of a specially destructive power ... A public 
square filled with people . • • Enough one or two such 

314 Leonid Andreyev 

shells. • . • And should the revolt still continue, 
shower the city. 

The revolt is over. All is quiet — the peai 
death. The ground is strewn with bodies, 
streets are soaked with blood. Fine ladies 
about. They lift their children and bid t 
kiss the mouth of the cannon , for the cannon 1 
saved the rich from destruction. Prayers 
hymns are offered up to the cannon, for they I 
saved the masters and punished the starveli 
And all is quiet, with the stillness of the gravej 
where sleep the dead. 

King-Hunger, with hollow cheeks and sun 
eyes, makes a desperate last appeal to his c 

King-Hunger, Oh, my son, my son! You clamc 
so loud — why are you mute? Oh, my daughter, 
daughter, you hated so profoundly, so intensely, you n 
miserable on earth — arise. Arise from the dust ! Rt 
the shadowy bonds of death! Arise! I conjure you 
the name of Life! — You're silent? 

For a brief moment all remains silent and i 
movable. Suddenly a sound is heard, distant 
first, then nearer and nearer, till a thousar 
throated roar breaks forth like thunder : 

We shall yet come! 

We shall yet come! 

Woe unto the victorious! 

King-Hunger 315 

The Victors pale at the ghostly cry. Seized 
with terror, they run, wildly howling : 

The dead arise! 

— The dead arise! 

" We shall yet come 1 " cry the dead. For they 
who died for an ideal never die in vain. They 
must come back, they shall come back. And then 
— woe be to the victorious 1 King-Hunger is in- 
deed the most terrible king on earth, but only for 
those who are driven by blind forces alone. 

But they who can turn on the light, know the 
power of the things they have created. They will 
come, and take possession, — no longer the 
wretched scum, but the masters of the world. 

A message revolutionary, deeply social in its 
scope, illumining with glorious hope the dismal 
horizon of the disinherited of the earth. 




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